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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Julie Mehretu

Whitney Museum of American Art / New York / Art

Julie Mehretu is one of the few painters who can talk the big conceptual talk of systems and globalization without neglecting her craft. Ethiopia-born, Michigan-raised, and RISD-educated, she makes images that feel ambitious not simply for their size (although some are as big as a swimming pool) but also for their nuanced structure and dense, sedimentary layers. Sometime in the early 2000s, Mehretu achieved liftoff with paintings that had the giddiness and gaudiness of a World Cup final, and echoes of Malevich’s Utopianism and Kandinsky’s exuberance. Where these 20th-century avant-gardists thought of themselves as purifiers of modern life, however, Mehretu seems more interested in re-complicating the world, showing the ways in which its parts don’t fit together, even when she’s acknowledging their jagged beauty. —Jackson Arn

Whitney Museum of American Art 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, USA
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