Design: Mapping the Artists who Invented Abstraction

A Glimpse Into The Design Process

This video illustrates the design process by the Museum of Modern Art in NY to map artists relationships and the growth of Abstraction. Design choices are informed by the end user, cultural influences, history and other factors. Staging a show on the origins of Abstract Art the museum documented their design process and demonstrate the important role information architecture and information graphics had in telling the story of the origins of Abstraction.

As part of their discovery process they focused on the artist’s relationships as well as other factors that could be established such as friendships, the degree of shared knowledge, exposure to other art forms and even collaboration between artists and creative disciplines. All of this combined to give expression to a new creative language, one we identify as Abstraction.

A visual language

Important Take Away:
When creating your visual language, be consistent. Use the same font set throughout, color cues and styles to give your site a sharper appearance. This will also help you better direct your user to the action items on your page.

In deciding how to feed this information to the public the team had to find a visual language that would communicate a large volume of information quickly and easily to an equally large number of people, many of whom may not use English as their primary language. Using a more classical mode of displaying scientific data the team chose a style that would be familiar to many visitors: one that is also used to show relationships in today’s social networks. The areas and people who had the greatest influence or pull would be larger or have a stronger weight to their appearance, all dictated by the data that had been collected.

This video is an insight to the design process

As voyeurs we also get a small taste of the iterative nature of the design process, it’s living ebb and flow. For those of you stepping into a new project, these factors will come into play to some degree. In all design solutions, the process to make the end product clear and accessible to your end user is exciting and lively.

More Information

View the exhibit online installation: and explore the interactive version of the map on MOMA

This is the original publication from the Museum of Modern Art archives that was used as inspiration.
Mapping the Relationships between the Artists who Invented Abstraction – information aesthetics.

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