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“Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts): Part 2” by Julie Mehretu: October Collection Highlight

Fine lines and skeletal architectural structures layer atop each other to form a monumental work on the Arab Spring.

Julie Mehretu (American, born Ethiopia, 1970) emigrated as a child to the United States from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and grew up in East Lansing, Michigan. Now based in Harlem, New York, she is best known for large-scale abstract paintings layered with a variety of mediums, marks, and meanings.

The 2011 Egyptian revolution — part of the “Arab Spring” of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa — was a major inspiration for her four-part cycle of paintings, Mogamma.

Julie Mehretu artwork with intersecting black lines and architectural forms on a cream colored background.
Julie Mehretu.
Julie Mehretu (American, born Ethiopia, 1970), Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts): Part 2, 2012, ink and acrylic on canvas.

In the film above, Julie Mehretu discusses how she began work on these four vertical canvases by exploring the densely layered environment of Tahrir Square, where a dizzying array of architectures, including structures built in Mamluk, Islamic, European, and Cold War styles, coexist.

Julie Mehretu (American, born Ethiopia, 1970), Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts), 2012, ink and acrylic on canvas; installation view in Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany, 2012. Courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, and White Cube, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Ryszard Kasiewicz.

The exhibition, Julie Mehretu, co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Whitney Museum of American Art, is at the High from October 24 through January 31, 2021. This touring exhibition marks the first time the four paintings have been reunited since 2012. The High owns Part 2.

Conversations with Contemporary Artists: Julie Mehretu
Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Zoom, 6–7 p.m.
Join us online with artist Julie Mehretu in conversation with Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at LACMA, Christine Y. Kim, and Assistant Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Rujeko Hockley. The conversation will be moderated by the High’s Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Michael Rooks.

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High Museum of Art

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