Grey Area / Julie Mehretu

Grey Area / Julie Mehretu

The Guggenheim Musuem’s newest exhibit features the work of Julie Mehretu, an abstract painter best known for her densely-layered paintings. Her work expresses an obsession with architecture, in particular, densely populated urban environments. In her pieces, Mehretu takes recognizable architectural components, such as the column, façade, and elevation, which are then compressed and combined to capture different perspectives. “Her paintings present a tornado of visual incident where gridded cities become fluid and flattened, like many layers of urban graffiti.”

Mehretu’s work, to some extent, may be a reflection of the power of architecture.  Working on ladders and scaffolding, Mehretu uses rulers and other drafting tools to create her masterpieces.  Her work has a strong architectural undertone, as well as a creative process to tie the piece together.  For instance, one of her works takes photos snapped from street level and arranges them in a way so the projections of new spaces can be drawn.

Like architecture, her work is open for interpretation.  For instance, in her “Believer’s Palace” (depicting Saddam Hussein’s underground command center in Baghdad),  viewers can often relate the piece to different catastrophic happenings such as Lower Manhattan, Haiti, or even the financial markets.

Artistically, the size and aesthetic of Mehretu’s work is interesting, and the process of using architecture in a new way makes the work quite powerful.

“Julie Mehretu: Grey Area” continues through October 6 at the Guggenheim. Source: Karen Rosenberg from the New York Times.

About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "Grey Area / Julie Mehretu " 25 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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