QUESTIONS: Julie Mehretu

The following questions can be used to spark conversation before, during, and after viewing the artist's film segment. They were compiled from our Educators' Guides and Screening Toolkits. We strongly encourage active viewing strategies that involve audiences in discussion in order to anticipate and set-up the ideas in the film, clarify content, or further the ideas while watching, and gives viewers the opportunity to process and re-consider their ideas after watching. Additional resources and strategies for teaching with films and working with contemporary art can be found in Teach.


"Untitled (2005 drawings)," 2005. Ink, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 26 x 40 inches. Collection of Edward Nahem. Photo by Erma Estwick. © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

Before Viewing
How does the scale of an artwork affect the way that one might experience it?

Julie Mehretu describes the process of making a series of paintings. She states: "Many parts of the drawing will also be erased. So, the paintings will build up, and then a big portion of them, somehow or another, will disappear. So then, hopefully, the paintings will also just interact, to talk about disintegration."

How do artists use strategies of erasure and concealment in their work, and to what effect? Can absence be as compelling as presence? How?

How can the process of drawing and painting, like sculpture, be both additive and subtractive?


SEGMENT: Julie Mehretu in "Systems"

While Viewing
What roles do Mehretu's assistants play in the process of creating her work?

Pause the segment at a particular work, and describe how Mehretu's paintings relate to maps and diagrams. How might her paintings make the viewer reconsider those forms, and see them in new ways?


"Excerpt (suprematist evation)," 2003. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 32 x 54 inches. Collection Nicolas Rohatyn and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Photo by Erma Estwick. © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

After Viewing
How do Mehretu's paintings relate to works of epic scale in the history of art? How would you describe her work, in relation to building and architecture, or destruction and disintegration?

Mehretu talks about a work that is supposed to map a history of capitalism and economic development in relation to its location in Lower Manhattan. What might this history include? How can the artist incorporate these ideas in one painting?


"Grey Space (distractor)," 2006. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 inches. Collection of Nicolas Rohatyn and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Photo by Erma Estwick. © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

Julie Mehretu describes the process of making a series of paintings. She states: "Many parts of the drawing will also be erased. So, the paintings will build up, and then a big portion of them, somehow or another, will disappear. So then, hopefully, the paintings will also just interact, to talk about disintegration."

How do artists use strategies of erasure and concealment in their work, and to what effect? Can absence be as compelling as presence? How?


"Walkers with the Dawn and Morning," 2008. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 96 x 144 inches. Ovitz Family Collection. Photo by Tim Thayer. © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.