There are a lot of decisions I have made conceptually before I start to paint. I've done research about what is going to go in the painting in terms of architectural information, color, narrative, concept and other stuff and then there is the development of the drawing in the painting. Painting, the making of it, is just a much more complex process, whereas the process of making a drawing is a fresh take; it's a very immediate thing.
Julie Mehretu packs a great deal of information into her work: Chinese calligraphy, Japanese ink drawings, graffiti, video games, news imagery, weather systems, maps, blueprints, and city plans are all raw material for her paintings, drawings, and prints. Mehretu is interested in (as she has written) “the role of an individual within a larger context.” Christopher Miles wrote in the September 2004 issue of Artforum that “Mehretu’s paintings play disturbingly against a backdrop of recent disasters such as 9/11 and the disintegration of the space shuttle. Hers is a world in which things fall apart, but also fall together.”
Julie Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1970. She attended the Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar in Senegal before moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan where she earned a BA from Kalamazoo College. In 1997 she received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Printmaking, like drawing, is of serious interest to her. For Mehretu’s complex prints made at Crown Point Press in 2006 and 2008, she used multiple plates to layer many different processes over one another.
Julie Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She attended the Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar in Senegal before moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned a BA from Kalamazoo College and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. A solo exhibition in 2003 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis was titled “Drawing into Painting,” as her painting process is deeply rooted in drawing: she suggests movement, such as expanding spaces, through her dynamic use of line. Printmaking, like drawing, is of serious interest to her. For her complex prints made at Crown Point Press she used multiple plates to layer many different processes over one another.
Mehretu is the recipient of many awards, including the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts; the Berlin Prize at the American Academy, Berlin; and the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In 2004 her work appeared at the Whitney Biennial and the São Paolo Biennial, and in 2005 she received a MacArthur Fellowship. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art commissioned HOWL, eon (I, II) a permanent installation for its Haas, Jr. Atrium, in 2017, and in 2019, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented the first-ever comprehensive survey of Mehretu’s work dating from 1996 to the present. It traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, The High Museum in Atlanta and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Her paintings are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Julie Mehretu lives and works in New York and is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery.
Julie Mehretu at Crown Point Press (2 minutes)
Artist Julie Mehretu discusses her print project at Crown Point Press in San Francisco.