I came across an article
titled "Who are the Top
10 Most Expensive Living
Women Artists?" I wasn't sure
what the relevance was with
regard to such information
and found the title a bit
strange. I guess that's why
I kept reading!
The article had to do with living women
artists and compensation for
their work. Landmark moments in
this art arena and crazy amounts
of money that I'm not sure I
will ever fully understand nor
One of the women listed in
the article was abstract artist
Julie Mehretu. Her work is
very unusual and has a distinct
energy. To me it felt a little
frenetic. Lines, shapes things
connected and disconnected
going in all kinds of directions.
As I read further I came to understand
a sense of order underneath the
surface structure. Planning and
a hidden narrative do exist as a
Her process includes research
and she often incorporates materials like
maps, newspaper clippings, architectural
drawings etc. to create layers upon
which she applies other mediums like
paint, ink, pencil to formulate a
final composition where the layers
are not longer visible.
I almost hate to use the word
composition because there is
an organic energy to her work
that seems to negate any sense
of order even though it's there.
I'm not sure these pieces are
completely planned either but more
incorporate the artists response
to the substructure.
Detail of "Howl" 2017
I was particularly drawn to this
work "Howl" eon I, II at the MOMA
in San Francisco. The exhibit
consisted of two large paintings
measuring 27' by 32'wide. Mehretu
created these on the idea of the
"American West as a
site of both great possibility
and great destruction."
The commissioned project began
with Mehretu collecting images
of landscape paintings from the
West by artists
like Frederic Edwin Church
and Albert Bierstadt. She placed
those among other more contemporary
photos of riots and protests
which as a collaboration challenged
ideas regarding the American Dream.
Enlarging the images until they were
pixilated beyond recognition,
she then had them printed
on canvas then applied layers of clear
acrylic until they became one with
the surface. It's at this point
that Mehretu begins painting.
I really liked this last photo
which helped clarify the sense
of scale in the two paintings.
I think for me the image also
conveys the feeling of a frontier and
the expansive potential and sometimes
dark nature of unknown territory.
If you care to learn more
about this contemporary woman
artist just give a click