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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Julie Mehretu

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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

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