Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection
May 24, 2019โ€“January 12, 2020
Press Kit
Installation View: Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,
May 24, 2019โ€“ January 12, 2020. Photo: David Heald. ยฉ Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Julie Mehretu was born in 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to an American mother and Ethiopian father. In 1977 she immigrated with her family to Michigan. She studied at the Universitรฉ Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal, and received a BA in art from Kalamazoo College, Michigan, before earning an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu creates mesmerizing, large-scale paintings, drawings, and prints featuring nonrepresentational forms layered with familiar architectural imagery. Inspired by a multitude of sources, including archival photographs, urban planning grids, comics, Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, graffiti, and modernist art and architecture, her semiabstract works explore how power, history, dystopia, and the built environment intersect and impact the formation of personal and communal identities. Her oeuvre engages with the tradition of nonobjective painting, from Futurism to Constructivism to Abstract Expressionism, and examines the relationship between abstraction and utopian ideals.

Mehretu typically creates a substructure for her canvases by covering a gesso base with wire-frame architectural drawings, overlapping zones of flat color, or clouds of pigment. These initial layers guide the narratives that unfold through subsequent additions of ink and acrylic paint. She separates many of these coats with a thin film of acrylic medium, sanded to produce a polished, transparent stratum. Lastly, on the surface of the paintings she makes spontaneous, gestural marks resembling shifting air masses, diagrams of weather patterns, or schematic representations of individuals and communities as they assemble and engage in dialogue or debate. In works such asย Congress(2003) andย Middle Greyย (2007โ€“09), she harnessed these techniques to suggest forces of energy, action, and intent. In her paintingsย Conjured Partsย (2016โ€“17), Mehretu turned to news photography of natural disasters, protests, and political events, blurring these images to the point of illegibility and using them as the basis for compositions with looser, more gestural markings and billowing areas of pigment compared to her earlier works. She continues to use abstraction to investigate the sites, structures, and bodies where social, economic, and political activity unfold.

able of Contents
1. Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection News Releaseโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ.โ€ฆโ€ฆ.2
2. Image Sheetโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ..8
3. Introductory and Section Wall Texts โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ..โ€ฆ.13
4. Reading Room Artist-Curator Information Textโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ..โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ.20
5. Extended Labels โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ26
6. Object Labels โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ.โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ.78
7. Exhibition Checklistโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ271
8. Lavazza Statementโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ..โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ..336