Julie Mehretu’s work is informed by a multitude of sources including politics, literature and music.
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Portrait of Julie Mehretu. Credit: David Heald.

Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to continue our artist-centric newsletter IN FOCUS, where we take the time to delve deeply into one artist on the MGG roster at a time. Aiming to show a fuller picture of the breadth of our artists' careers, we will feature our favorite stories, podcasts, interviews, artists’ writings and videos from the archive, as well as new and upcoming projects.

Julie 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. Her work continues to engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior, and the psychogeography of space. 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. In November 2019, a retrospective of Mehretu’s work opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which will travel to The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The High Museum, Atlanta, and The Walker Museum of Art, Minneapolis. Julie Mehretu is a co-founder of Denniston Hill, an artist centered interdisciplinary arts organization supporting creative voices to help shape a just society.

Today, follow along as we explore the many facets that make up the artist’s oeuvre. ↓


Art21's 2017 feature on Mehretu, surrounding her major commission for SFMoMA; a diptych titled HOWL, eon (I, II) (2017), each canvas 27 feet high by 32 feet wide, the artist's largest paintings to date. Art21 also produced a feature on Mehretu in 2010, going into depth on the artist's painting Mural, at Goldman Sachs.

Two of LACMA's special programs, both surrounding Mehretu's mid-career survey at the museum. In Response: Shifting Architectures and Painted Landscapes brought together artists, architects, and scholars to respond to various themes throughout Mehretu's exhibition. And Feminist Perspectives on Julie Mehretu, a panel which examined Mehretu's work from feminist perspectives, in relation to feminist history, theory, practices, and possibilities.


A book list chosen by Mehretu
, as a part of her inclusion in the 2019 Venice Biennale (plus a few additional books of interest). Each participating artist was asked to suggest a selection of books that have inspired or have been important to them, the publications are then held in The Sterling Pavilion – in the Giardini – where visitors can explore, sit, and read in the quiet, light-filled space. Mehretu chose to include authors and poets alike, such as Jesmyn Ward and Fred Moten.


An excerpt from the opera, Only the Sounds Remains, composed by Kaija Saariahos, for which Mehretu created the set design, and was directed by Peter Sellars, a close friend and in this instance collaborator of Mehretu. It features a transportive performance by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. Commissioned by the Dutch National Opera the work debuted in March 2016 and toured to Paris, Helsinki, Madrid, and New York.

A conversation between Mehretu and Curator/Writer, Paul Holdengräber, as a part of the new podcast, The Quarantine Tapes, in which Mehretu desribes the senses of "urgency, anxiety, and stillness" she has experienced amidst the pandemic.

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