Julie Mehretu, African Art, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

In an Unused Harlem Church, a Towering Work of a ‘Genius’ | The New York Times Julie Mehretu, a MacArthur Foundation “genius,” is executing a monumental new commission for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.



The artist Julie Mehretu has been flying awfully close to the sun. Soaring midair on a mobile platform inside an unused Harlem church, she has been working and reworking two towering paintings taking shape on opposite walls, a monumental commission for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

For the last 14 months the vaulted neo-Gothic nave has served as Ms. Mehretu’s temporary studio as she executes the most physically demanding, politically charged and collaborative work of her career. Later this month, her paintings will be installed in the museum’s atrium, where they will remain on view for more than three years.

“These are my most American paintings,” said Ms. Mehretu, 46, running her hand through her crop of dark curls as she contemplated the two radiant and complex canvases, each stretching 27 feet by 32 feet.

Julie Mehretu, African Art, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto Credit | Teju Cole

Julie Mehretu, African Art, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNMogamma, Part 2 (2012) | Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu, African Art, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNRetopistics: A Renegade Excavation (2001) | Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu, African Art, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto Credit | Jean-Philippe Boucicaut

Julie Mehretu, African Art, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNStadia-III (2004) | Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu, African Art, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNInsile (2012) | Julie Mehretu

SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (SFMOMA) | CALIFORNIA

SFMOMA is dedicated to making the art for our time a vital and meaningful part of public life. For that reason we assemble unparalleled collections, create exhilarating exhibitions, and develop engaging public programs. In all of these endeavors, we are guided by our enduring commitment to fostering creativity and embracing new ways of seeing the world. (Website).