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Julie Mehretu | Workday


Filmed in her Berlin studio, Julie Mehretu discusses the ups and downs of her daily studio practice. Mehretu is shown working on the painting Middle Grey (2007-2009), one work in a suite of seven paintings commissioned by the Deutsche Guggenheim as part of the exhibition Julie Mehretu: Grey Area, which travels to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York later this year (May 14 – October 6, 2010).

Mehretu’s paintings and drawings refer to elements of mapping and architecture, achieving a calligraphic complexity that resembles turbulent atmospheres and dense social networks. Architectural renderings and aerial views of urban grids enter the work as fragments, losing their real-world specificity and challenging narrow geographic and cultural readings. The paintings’ wax-like surfaces—built up over weeks and months in thin translucent layers—have a luminous warmth and spatial depth, with formal qualities of light and space made all the more complex by Mehretu’s delicate depictions of fire, explosions, and perspectives in both two and three dimensions. Her works engage the history of nonobjective art—from Constructivism to Futurism—posing contemporary questions about the relationship between utopian impulses and abstraction.

Julie Mehretu is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Systems of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS.

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Ian Serfontein. Sound: Paul Stadden. Editor: Lizzie Donahue & Paulo Padilha. Artwork Courtesy: Julie Mehretu.


  1. Gabriel Bell says:

    Absolutely my favorite artist working today – thanks.

  2. Rose says:

    Julie Mehretu’s paintings have influenced me greatly since I was in grad school and learned about her work. Getting a glimpse into her studio practice is fantastic and reassuring: Show up. Be present. And patient. In terms of personal geographies, Mehretu’s work inspired an essay about ‘mapping the imagination’ that I wrote here:

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  5. Sheba Azeb Zekiros says:

    Julie Mehretu’s paintings are great and thanks for sharing. Her sense of colors, space and time is amazing. Even though they have different styles, I have been an admirer of Julie and Skunder’s work. As a painter, I get inspired by Julie’s energetic expressions.

  6. JULIE MEHRETU with her great works as art- painter is an inspiration for me, and to take her history like nice example to show my paintings in galleries. Thank you, JULIE MEHRETO. Sincerely: Tomas Capistran HOUSTON, TEXAS [email protected]

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  8. Bobby says:

    Let me see if I got this right…..She has to work hard. Got it.

    Sorry, but this was hardly a revelation.

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