Art21 Extended Play

Julie Mehretu: “Mural”

Donate Today!

SUPPORT ART21: The countdown continues…there are 64 days left to join the 100 x 100 Exclusive campaign. In 36 days we’ve received 35 donations. For as little as $1, you can stand up and be counted as part of Art21’s fan base. Your participation helps underwrite the next 100 videos and your name will be listed on our website as a 100 x 100 Exclusive member. And now without further ado, today’s video:

Episode #106: Julie Mehretu puts the finishing touches on her large-scale painting Mural at Goldman Sachs, adjusting shapes and colors in dialogue with the architecture and views from the street. Be sure to check out our recent videos of Mural narrated by the artist’s studio assistants (Episode #097) and painting conservator Luca Bonetti (Episode #101).

Julie 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.

Opening Today: An exhibition of recent works as part of the exhibition Julie Mehretu: Grey Area at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (through October 6, 2010). The 15th in a series of commissions by Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the works were inspired by Mehretu’s time spent in Berlin.

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. Watch the full episode online via iTunes (opens application).

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Wesley Miller. Camera & Sound: Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Thanks: Erika Fortner; Jessica Kingdon; Goldman, Sachs, & Co.; Harmony Murphy; and Damien Young.