Blueprints for Another World



Julie Mehretu frequently has been hailed as an heir to Jackson Pollock. But where many of Pollock’s paintings seem divorced from real-world antecedents, Mehretu blends abstraction and representation in open response to current events: the Arab Spring, deadly wildfires on the West Coast of the United States, the burning of Rohingya villages in Myanmar, the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Some of her paintings and works on paper look like warped views of cities from above; others resemble blueprints for another world. Always, though, amid the layers and layers of symbols, shapes, vectors, and lines, one can see Mehretu’s architectural precision and control. An exhibition showcasing more than twenty years of her work will open at the Whitney Museum of American Art on March 25 and run through August 8. A selection of images from the show appears below.

Julie Mehretu, Black City, 2007, ink and acrylic on canvas, 120 x 192″. Pinault Collection, Paris, France. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu, Untitled 2, 1999, ink and polymer on canvas mounted to board, 59 3/4 × 71 3/4″. Private collection, courtesy of White Cube. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu, Migration Direction Map (large), 1996, ink on mylar, 22 x 15″. Private collection. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu, Conjured Parts (eye), Ferguson, 2016, ink and acrylic on canvas, 84 x 96″. The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu, Mind-Wind Field Drawings (quarantine studio, d.h.) #1, 2019–2020, ink and acrylic on paper, 26 x 40″. Private collection, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery New York/Paris. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu, Hineni (E. 3:4), 2018, ink and acrylic on canvas, 96 × 120″. Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle; gift of George Economou, 2019. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu, Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation, 2001, ink and acrylic on canvas, 101 1/2 × 208 1/2″. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas 2013.28. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu, Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts) (1 of 4), 2012, ink and acrylic on canvas, 180 × 144″. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. © Julie Mehretu.


Julie Mehretu” will open at the Whitney Museum of American Art on March 25 and run through August 8.