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Julie Mehretu: Studio Assistants | Art21 "Exclusive"

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Published on Mar 12, 2010

Episode #097: Filmed in her Berlin studio, a group of Julie Mehretu's assistants — Sarah Rentz, Damien Young, Erika Fortner and Harmony Murphy — discuss how they each bring different areas of expertise to the process of making paintings, from fine art backgrounds in printmaking and illustration to furniture polishing techniques and administrative skills.

Julie Mehretu's paintings and drawings refer to elements of mapping and architecture, achieving a calligraphic complexity that resembles turbulent atmospheres and dense social networks. Architectural renderings and aerial views of urban grids enter the work as fragments, losing their real-world specificity and challenging narrow geographic and cultural readings. The paintings' wax-like surfaces—built up over weeks and months in thin translucent layers—have a luminous warmth and spatial depth, with formal qualities of light and space made all the more complex by Mehretu's delicate depictions of fire, explosions, and perspectives in both two and three dimensions. Her works engage the history of nonobjective art—from Constructivism to Futurism—posing contemporary questions about the relationship between utopian impulses and abstraction.

Learn more about Julie Mehretu at: http://www.art21.org/artists/julie-me...

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Ian Serfontein. Sound: Paul Stadden. Editor: Lizzie Donahue, Paulo Padilha & Joaquin Perez. Artwork Courtesy: Julie Mehretu. Special Thanks: Erika Fortner, Harmony Murphy, Sarah Rentz & Damien Young.

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