Women in Art 2013: Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu. (Photo Credit: ©Sarah Rentz)

Elle Magazine

In September, Julie Mehretu was in Moscow to show, among other pieces, a 24-foot-long abstract painting. It’s mostly white, yet quite eventful, shot through with inky flares, charging vectors, meandering loops, and staccato daubs of dark paint interrupted by washes of bright color. It’s a glorious, complex puzzle; standing before it is a little like walking into speeding traffic.

Like most of her work, the painting suggests the topography and temperature of a large, densely populated city. “It’s based on the architecture of Cairo’s Tahrir Square,” the Acne jeans–clad 43-year-old explains, before taking another trip, this time to escort one of the two young children she has with the artist Jessica Rankin to the bathroom of the family’s Harlem carriage house. The match with Rankin is a “creative project” itself, she says. “A relationship with two artists is its own making.”

Since 2000, when her work had its first major public appearance, in a group show at MoMA PS1, Mehretu’s career has been meteoric—or it would be, if her paintings didn’t take so long to make. Mural, commissioned by Goldman Sachs for the lobby of its Lower Manhattan tower, is enormous for a painting—23 by 80 feet—and required three years to complete.

Read more Elle magazine.

Related:
Tadias Interview with Julie Mehretu: Celebrating Women’s History Month 2012

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