Julie Mehretu

Lives and works in New York City

Julie Mehretu makes large-scale, gestural paintings. Her work conveys a compression of time, space, and place and a collapse of art historical references. Known for a deep political and social engagement, Mehretu’s dynamic compositions have been lauded for their capacity to convey the energy, chaos and urgency of our globalized world. Over the years her works have made reference to architecture, traffic patterns, wind and water currents, migrations, military plans, border crossings, and travel. Evolving from her previous series, Mogamma (2012), which used distinct architectural motifs as a metaphor for the unfolding socio-economic and political scenario of the Arab Spring, Mehretu’s recent work has delved further into the liminal ’third space’, offering a more personal, contemplative, and pared down response to the aftermath of these events. Her signature sharp lines and geometries have softened as she probes deeper into the visual language of abstraction. Commenting on her recent work, Mehretu notes, “when I talk about retreat, I mean in that context — a moment of rethinking language, of rethinking collective action and governance. I’m looking to take a step back in order to take the parts apart and put them together.“

She was named one of the “100 most influential people” by Time Magazine in 2020. Other selected awards and honors include the “Liberty Award for Artistic Leadership” given each year by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), New York (2018); The US State Department’s “National Medal of Arts”(2015); The American Academy’s “Berlin Prize” (2007); and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “MacArthur Fellowship” (2005). The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York recently co-organized a mid-career survey of Mehretu’s work, which also traveled to the High Museum, Atlanta, and will open at its last venue, The Walker Museum in Minneapolis on October 16, 2021. Her work has been exhibited extensively in museums and biennials, including the Carnegie International (2004–05), Sydney Biennial (2006), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010), dOCUMENTA (13) (2012), Sharjah Biennial (2015), Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2017), Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, UK (2019); and the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia (2019). She is featured in public collections such as MoMA, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles; Pinault Collection – Palazzo Grassi, Venice; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk; National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.