Mixed media illustrations of Ito Calvino’s 1972 novel ‘Invisible Cities’

Mixed media illustrations of Ito Calvino’s 1972 novel ‘Invisible Cities’

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Ito Calvino’s Invisible Cities, published in 1972 by Giulio Einaudi Editore, tells about a fictional time where the Venetian explorer Marco Polo and Mongol emperor Kublai Khan shared conversations about imagined cities. The book was loosely based on Marco Polo’s travel journals across Asia.

For Lima-based architect Karina Puente, the fictional conversations that took place between the explorer and the Khan were what she finds “absolutely amazing.” This has ultimately led her to illustrate in different forms of the medium the cities, all women’s names, described in the book.

An initial collection of her works was published by ArchDaily last 2016 and all were illustrations from the book’s chapter Cities and Memories. The drawing process was quite painstaking and Puente would even “ideate over each city for three weeks before making sketches.” Each of the cities in Calvino’s book had their own individual characteristic, and as Puente would say, “every single one has something worth admiring.”

The 55 (In)visible Cities Project can now be seen on the architect’s website.

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