Born, 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Lives and works in New York, New York
Julie Mehretu's visually rich and energetic paintings synthesize a broad range of
visual precedents from architectural drawings, maps, and floor plans to European modernist
abstraction and the grand scale and drama of traditional history painting. At the same
time, they intersect with the current preoccupation with power, history, and
globalization. By inserting movement and social patterns within the static mapping of
urban planning and structural engineering, Mehretu overlays a coded abstract language
onto a figurative and representational world. Her stated interest in the "multifaceted
layers of place, space, and time that impact the formation of personal and communal
identity" is quite literally embodied in the complex physical layering of imagery in her
compositions. Maps, newspaper photographs, tattoos, and graffiti are among her vast visual
sources, and the time she spent as a child living in locales as far flung as Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, are experiences seemingly echoed in the itinerancy of
her source material.
Cotter, Holland. "Glenn Brown, Julie Mehretu, Peter Rostovsky." New York Times, June 23, 2000.
Firstenberg, Lauri. "Painting Platforms in NY." Flash Art 35, no. 227 (November–December 2002): 70–75.
Hoptman, Laura. "Crosstown Traffic." Frieze 54 (September 2000): 104–7.
Julie Mehretu: Drawing Into Painting. Exhibition catalogue. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2003.
Sirmans, Franklin. "Mapping a New, and Urgent, History of the World." New York Times, December 9, 2001.