ART TALK: Julie Mehretu Makes Art Big Enough to Get Lost In

Starting March 25, Julie Mehretu’s paintings, drawings and prints will be on view in a midcareer retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, before moving to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. (PHOTO: JULIE MEHRETU)

Wall Street Journal

The abstract painter uses architectural drawings and photographs to create works on a grand scale

The artist Julie Mehretu, 51, likes to work on a grand scale. A silent short film by the British artist Tacita Dean shows Ms. Mehretu at work on her monumental painting “Mural” at the New York headquarters of Goldman Sachs in 2009, high up on a cherry picker as she grapples with a canvas 80 feet long and 23 feet high. “The scale of the Goldman Sachs painting was the reason why I decided to take that challenge on,” Ms Mehretu says. “It was scary, but exhilarating and wonderful to do.”

Starting March 25, Ms. Mehretu’s paintings, drawings and prints will be on view in a midcareer retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, before moving to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The show includes one of her best-known paintings, “Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation,” which at nearly 20 feet wide was Ms. Mehretu’s largest painting when she made it in 2001. The multilayered work reflects on the transitory nature of a global existence, with an initial layer of architectural drawings of airports around the world almost obscured by painted motifs, drips, lines and colorful streamers, in a precise yet cartoon-like dynamic.

Ms. Mehretu says that she wanted people “to not see the edges and get lost in the minutiae of the drawing and then be able to move back to see the whole picture.” As she explains, “That’s why my paintings became bigger, so you couldn’t see both [aspects] at the same time.” “Retopistics,” which is being lent to the Whitney by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, fetched a record auction price for the artist in 2013 when it was sold by Christie’s New York for $4.6 million.

As a child growing up in East Lansing, Mich., Ms. Mehretu often accompanied her father, a geography teacher, to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. It was there that she discovered Diego Rivera’s 27-painting fresco known as the “Detroit Industry Murals,” depicting workers at the Ford Motor Company. The large-scale work is a touchstone: “Seeing it again is always better than the memory of it,” Ms. Mehretu says. “Every time it’s more than whatever I remembered it to be.”

But Ms. Mehretu was never enchanted with the idea of becoming a figurative artist like Rivera. Abstraction provided her with a creative space to make sense of her place in the world as an Ethiopian-American who arrived in the U.S. at the age of six. “It’s in this complex, contradictory and rich mix of the two that I find myself,” Ms. Mehretu says. “It’s one reason why abstraction has always been more interesting to me, because you can invent that in-between place and this other way of being rather than trying to call on just a particular set of cultural imagery and signifiers.”

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopian-American Artist Julie Mehretu’s First Career Survey to Open in Atlanta


The Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. (Photo: Julie Mehretu’s Mogamma [A Painting in Four Parts], 2012 © JULIE MEHRETU, PHOTOGRAPH BY RYSZARD KASIEWICZ, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK, AND WHITE CUBE.

Harper’s BAZAAR

JULIE MEHRETU AT THE HIGH MUSEUM OF ART
(OPENING OCTOBER 24)

Julie Mehretu’s richly layered paintings, often formed through the accretion of colorful lines and brushstrokes over architectural plans and drawings, have explored themes such as race, history, migration, revolution, global capitalism, and technology for more than two decades.

Now, the Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. It showcases the evolution of Mehretu’s abstract style through a selection of works, including a reunited cycle of monumental ink-and-acrylic canvases from 2012 called “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts),” each of which stands 15 feet tall.

Read more »

Related:

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art


Julie Mehretu – Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund 2004.50. © Julie Mehretu, photograph courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

October 31st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend the highly anticipated traveling exhibition — featuring a mid-career survey of Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu’s work dating back to 1996 to the present — will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California.

“The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, it covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration. Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, will be explored in depth,” LACMA stated in its announcement, noting that the show brings together about “40 works on paper with 35 paintings along with a print by Rembrandt and a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.”

The traveling exhibition, which is co-organized by the LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art, will subsequently come to New York for a display at the Whitney from June 26th to September 20, 2020, before moving to Atlanta at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, and finally the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021.

Julie lives and works in New York. She was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. As LACMA notes: “Mehretu received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and, among many awards and honors, is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” (2005) and a U.S. State Department National Medal of Arts (2015).”


Julie Mehretu, Untitled 2, 2001, ink and acrylic on canvas, 60 × 84 in., private collection, courtesy of Salon 94, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Black City, 2007, ink and acrylic on canvas, 120 × 192 in., Pinault Collection, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tim Thayer. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Haka (and Riot), 2019, ink and acrylic on canvas, 144 × 180 in., courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging.


Related:

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.