THEMATIC: Scale, Maps, and Diagrams

"Palimpsest (old gods)," 2006. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 84 inches. Collection of Mehretu-Rankin. Photo by Erma Estwick. © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

The use of scale can change the way a viewer experiences an artwork. Mehretu creates artworks of vastly different sizes and scales, while reflecting on subjects such as mapping or the history of a place. In her Art in the Twenty-First Century segment, Mehretu describes moving to a new studio in order to create a new series of large works. View Mehretu's segment, and examine how the artist employs scale, to represent the grand historical context of the work as well as to reflect on the architecture in which the work will be displayed.

Compare Mehretu's use of scale to that of other artists, including: Richard Serra, Richard Tuttle, Maya Lin, and Krzysztof Wodiczko.

SEGMENT: Julie Mehretu in "Systems"

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

While Viewing
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?

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?

"Citadel," 2005. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 inches. Collection of Mellody Hobson. Photo by Erma Estwick. © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

Research a specific location, in your neighborhood or elsewhere. Collect photographs that document a change in that place over time. Use layering and tracing to build an image that reflects this history but becomes increasingly abstract, with successive layers. Write a statement that reflects on the process of visually representing a history.