>> Introduction

The issue of aesthetics in cartography is mentioned in various forms by various authors, cartographers. However, even other humanities experts dedicated their time to this topic. Thanks to the interdisciplinary character of this issue a number of these authors ran up against problems of poor knowledge of the second field. Either they were experts specialising in humanities with insufficient knowledge of the principles of cartographic production, often substituting cartographic works for artistic production on one hand, and perceiving cartographic works as products of strictly utility value on the other. In case of cartography this problem was even pressing. The term aesthetics was, and unfortunately still is, in many cases substituted by the capabilities of cartographic works; this leads to a shift of aesthetic value into utility sphere.

The topic of the examination paper "The Aesthetics of Cartographic Works" (Estetika kartografické tvorby) was chosen in 2001 and was inspired, among others, by one of the last lectures by professor Karel Kuchař in autumn 1974. The lecture had the same name and K. Kuchař addressed the need to resolve this problem in the context of today’s cartography (i.e. cartography of the 1970s). Nowadays professor Kuchař´s legacy is more than up-to-date, especially when map production has become widely unified thanks to computers. Doc. Richard Čapek was the supervisor. Thanks to the need to attend some subjects taught at the Faculty of Arts and study materials on aesthetics the thesis was defended only in 2003. It dealt primarily with the theoretical context of the issue, and unfortunately, the thesis as such is a proof of how inaccurately aesthetics can be perceived by cartographers.

Two years later (in 2005) diploma thesis called "Aesthetic Assessment of Czech Cartographic Production for Schools" (Hodnocení české kartografické tvorby pro školy z hlediska estetiky) was completed and defended. Professor Vít Voženílek was the supervisor. In this thesis the above mentioned knowledge was applied during the assessment of two school atlases published in 2004.

The two mentioned theses were followed by the research called "Aesthetics in Cartographic Expression", which was granted financial means by the Grant Agency of the Charles University and which was in progress throughout the years 2006-2008. The dissertation thesis now being elaborated by the leader of the research is oriented to aesthetic values of cartographic production.

In addition, the possibilities of creativity in current cartographic production started to be dealt with. As a result a number of “creative maps” were produced by students, primarily of geography and cartography, and they were exhibited at the exhibition called “Image of today cartography” (May - June 2008), as part of the ICA Symposium on Cartography for CEE 2009 (Vienna, February 2009). A special publication with the most interesting “creative maps” is planned.
The research is also related to aspects of interconnection of art and cartography of the Art & Cartography, working group of the International Cartographic Association (founded in 2008).