Untitled (Pulse)

​Julie Mehretu (Ethiopian/American, b.1970) is an Abstract printmaker and painter. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and moved to Michigan with her family in 1977. She began her education at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, and then went on to earn a BA in Art from Kalamazoo College, and a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 1997.

Mehretu has lived and worked in New York, NY, since beginning her career in 1999, but she also has a studio in Berlin that she uses for part of each year. She produces large scale prints, drawings, and paintings that use heavy layering to create Abstract imagery from patterns and architectural photographs. Hundreds of thin and translucent layers of paint and paper cover the canvas of each painting. Critics have linked her work to nonliteral art movements ranging from Futurism to Constructivism. All of her works, regardless of format, involve symbolism drawn from graffiti, city maps, and comic book graphics. Explosions and sharp or arching line work are constant themes running throughout her body of work. Mehretu has drawn inspiration from the large-scale works of Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956) and Barnett Newman (American, 1905–1970).
One of the artist’s most widely known works is the 80-foot-wide mural located in Goldman Sachs tower entitled Mural. It is visible from the street, and was commissioned by the banking firm in 2010. Her painting Untitled 1 is also popular and sold for over US$1,000,000 at Sotheby’s auction house in 2010. Mehretu’s drawings were included in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York entitled Drawing Now: Eight Propositions in 2002. The Palazzo Grassi in Venice also hosted her work for their Praise Of Doubt exhibition in 2011. Her first major solo exhibition, Grey Area, took place at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2010. Her current body of work is part of a permanent collection in the Museum of Modern Art. Representation for Mehretu is handled by Marian Goodman Gallery in New York and White Cube of London. She has received the Berlin Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Award, and the American Art Award. Mehretu lives and works in New York and Berlin, Germany.

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About Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu’s work is about layers: the physical layering of images, marks, and mediums, and the figurative layering of time, space, place, and history. Working in a large scale, Mehretu draws on the 21st-century city for inspiration, transferring its energy into her gestural sweeps of paint and built-up marks in ink and pencil—often transposed from projections—and condensing seemingly infinite urban narratives, architectural views, and street plans into single unified compositions. “The narratives come together to create this overall picture that you see from the distance,” she says. “As you come close to it […] the big picture completely shatters and there are these numerous small narratives happening.” Mehretu layers a range of influences and art historical references as well, from the dynamism espoused by the Futurists, to the scale and physicality of Abstract Expressionism, to the divergent markmaking of Albrecht Dürer, Eastern calligraphy, and graffiti. Mehretu was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2005.

Ethiopian-American, b. 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, based in New York, New York

Exhibition Highlights On Artsy

2016
Julie Mehretu: Hoodnyx, Voodoo and Stelae, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
2015
Julie Mehretu: Paintings & Works on Paper, Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
2015
Julie Mehretu: Myriads, Only By Dark, Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl, New York
2014
Julie Mehretu | Half A Shadow, carlier | gebauer, Berlin

Solo Shows on Artsy

2016
Julie Mehretu: Hoodnyx, Voodoo and Stelae, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
2015
Julie Mehretu: Paintings & Works on Paper, Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
2015
Julie Mehretu: Myriads, Only By Dark, Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl, New York
2014
Julie Mehretu | Half A Shadow, carlier | gebauer, Berlin

Group Shows on Artsy

2016
In Context: Africans in America, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
2016
Julie Mehretu & Jessica Rankin: Earthfold, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle
2016
Scratches, Spit and Vinegar, Crown Point Press, San Francisco
2015
The Inaugural Installation, The Broad, Los Angeles
2011
Highpoint Editions – Decade One, Highpoint Editions, Minneapolis
View Artist's CV