Julie Mehretu

Born 1970 Addis Ababa, Julie Mehretu​ lives and works in New York. Graduated from University Cheikh Anta Diop (1990); Kalamazoo College (1992); and Rhode Island School of Design (1997).

In exploring palimpsests of history, from geological time to a modern day phenomenology of the social, Mehretu's works engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior and the psychogeography of space.

Mehretu’ s work is informed by a multitude of sources including politics, literature and music. Most recently her paintings have incorporated photographic images from broadcast media which depict conflict, injustice, and social unrest. These graphic images act as intellectual and compositional points of departure; ultimately occluded on the canvas, they remain as a phantom presence in the highly abstracted gestural completed works. Mehretu’ s practice in painting, drawing and printmaking equally assert the role of art to provoke thought and reflection, and express the contemporary condition of the individual and society.

Selected solo exhibitions include Julie Mehretu, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2021); about the space of half an hour, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2020); Julie Mehretu, High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2020); Julie Mehretu, LACMA, Los Angeles (2019); Drawings and Monotypes, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge (2019); SEXTANT, White Cube, London (2018); A Universal History of Everything and Nothing, Serralves Museum, Porto and Centro Botin, Santander (2016 -17); Julie Mehretu, Hoodnyx, Voodoo and Stelae, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2016); Gebre Kristos Desta Center, Addis Ababa (2016); The Mathematics of Droves, White Cube, São Paulo (2014); and Grey Area, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010). Selected group exhibitions include RELATIONS: la diaspora et la peinture, Fondation Phi, Montréal (2020); When We First Arrived..., The Corner at Whitman-Walker, Washington D.C. (2020); From Hand To Mind, Carlier Gebauer, Madrid (2020); May You Live in Interesting Times, 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2019, Venice (2019); Actions: '...the image of the world can be different, Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge (2018); Lines of Thought, Drawing from Michelangelo to Now, RISM Museum, Providence and touring (2016); Sharjah Biennial 12, United Arab Emirates (2015); Sweet Dew, Since 1980, Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju (2014); The Forever Now, Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); Seeking New Genealogy, Art, Body, Performance, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2014); More Light, 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2013); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (2012); and From Picasso to Julie Mehretu, British Museum, London (2010).

Awards include membership to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2021); the Barnett and Annalee Newman Award (2013); the US State Department's National Medal of Arts (2015); and a MacArthur Fellowship (2005). 

Last updated: 07.05.2021