Julie Mehretu creates large-scale works, which combine different media and surfaces to create abstract landscapes, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources including architectural drawings, photographs, city maps, and more.
In her two-dimensional works with eclectic characters, one comes across calligraphy, graffiti, or street art. Mehretu’s works also express how the sociopolitical implications of our urban environment’s history are explored.
The 52-year-old was born in Ethiopia but migrated to the U.S. at the height of political strife in 1977. She has grown to become one of the most influential people in the contemporary African art world, setting records in the creative space.
She recently broke again the record for the highest sale price of any work by an African-born artist at auction. According to BBC, her abstract painting Walkers With the Dawn and Morning was sold for $10.7 million at Sotheby’s in New York on Wednesday.
Mehretu created Walkers With the Dawn and Morning in 2005. It was part of an exhibition created in response to Hurricane Katrina and its impact on New Orleans.
Two bidders competed for the auctioned piece, going from $9.5 million to the final record-breaking sum of $10.7 million, once fees were added. She held the previous record of $9.3m, which was set last month, according to the BBC.
The platform added that the record sale indicates a strong interest in contemporary African art. “We are moving beyond that initial phase to something more discerning”, Hannah O’Leary, head of Sotheby’s modern and contemporary African art department, told the Art Newspaper.
Walkers With the Dawn and Morning is named after leading Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.