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PROPERTY FROM AN ESTEEMED AMERICAN COLLECTION

Julie Mehretu
RISE OF THE NEW SUPREMATISTS
Estimate
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Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,500,0004,500,000
LOT SOLD. 4,820,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
17

PROPERTY FROM AN ESTEEMED AMERICAN COLLECTION

Julie Mehretu
RISE OF THE NEW SUPREMATISTS
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,500,0004,500,000
LOT SOLD. 4,820,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Julie Mehretu
B.1970
RISE OF THE NEW SUPREMATISTS
ink and acrylic on canvas
95 by 118 in. 241.3 by 299.7 cm.
Executed in 2001.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

The Project, New York
Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above in 2001)
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

New York, The Project, Layering Chaos, December 2001
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney Biennial 2004, March - May 2004, p. 260 (text)

Literature

Franklin Sirmans, "Mapping a New, and Urgent, History of the World," The New York Times, December 9, 2001, p. 41, illustrated (with the artist at The Project)
Alexi Worth, "Julie Mehretu: The Project," Artforum, February 2002, p. 129, illustrated
Carly Berwick, "Excavating Runes," ARTnews 101, March 2002, p. 95 (text)
Malk Gaines, "Julie Mehretu: Aftershocks," Artext 77, Summer 2002, p. 36 (illustrated in color)
Christopher Knight, "Binary Days at the Biennial," Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2004, p. E43, illustrated
Brandon Taylor, Contemporary Art: Art Since 1970, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2005, p. 219 (text)
Exh. Cat., Léon, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon (and travelling), Black City, 2006, p. 71, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

"Incoherent chaos and excruciating control are balanced on a metaphorical knife-edge by the explosive linearity of Julie Mehretu's monumental Rise of the New Suprematists."
Christopher Knight, "Binary Days at the Biennial," Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2004, p. 43

At once hypnotically tumultuous and exactingly constructed, Julie Mehretu’s monumental masterpiece Rise of the New Suprematists from 2001 is a provocative synthesis of abstract hieroglyphic symbolism and architectural visual vocabulary. Through a distinctively informed pictorial language, Mehretu superimposes incendiary emotive marks and calligraphic ciphers upon an intricately rendered blueprint of an imagined public space, with gesture and geometry clamoring for attention. Her explosive graphic explorations of space attempt to articulate the power structures and methods of mapping that define the contemporary urban landscape, as well as her own place within them. Honored as a recipient of the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts in 2015, and currently the subject of a major retrospective co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art through 2020, Mehretu has garnered widespread acclaim as one of the most influential artists of her generation. Testifying to the caliber of the present work, Rise of the New Suprematists was one of two paintings by the artist included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial; the other, Empirical Construction, Istanbul (2003), is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The gravitas of her conceptual ideology coupled with the skill and dexterity of her mark-making, as magnificently exemplified by the present work, have established Mehretu as a modern master and uniquely articulate voice of a socially, culturally, and politically wary generation.

Rise of the New Suprematists, as a model of Mehretu’s unbridled visual and symbolic layering, requires excavation. Beneath the immediate explosion of free-form scrawls and kinetic vectors lies a subtly rendered architectonic assemblage, anchoring the composition in formal geometric terms, yet resisting any ready legibility. As esteemed critic and curator Franklin Sirmans noted of Mehretu’s work in a review for the New York Times: “Her action-packed scenes of virtual cities incorporate classical examples of architecture with a psychogeography that collapses time – from the prehistoric to the present – to create a dreamy yet eerily grounded picture of contemporary life. In the painting Rise of the New Suprematists, groups of small marks identify a determined procession of people in an environment suggestive of urban development on a sprawling global scale.” (Franklin Sirmans, “Mapping a New, and Urgent, History of the World,” The New York Times, December 9, 2001, p. 41) In this sense, Mehretu’s markings capture the fragmented experiences and stimuli of a collective cityscape; at once universal and highly personal, her work not only maps an imagined world but also attempts to reconcile the artist’s own identity within it. Reflecting her view that constructed spaces serve as metaphors for complex power structures and political realities, each of her script-like strokes is informed by its interaction with the linear foundation underneath and the other symbols around it.

Similarly, Mehretu conceives her works in globalized terms, drawing from diverse historical movements as well as her own disparate heritage. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Michigan, educated in Senegal and Rhode Island, and now based between New York and Berlin, her paintings are built from the juxtaposition of different styles of marking, each with their own character, identity and history. In Rise of the New Suprematists, Mehretu underlines her canonical lineage to Kazimir Malevich and Lyubov Popova, referring to their manifesto declaring the supremacy of pure artistic feeling over the literal depiction of objects. The linear vectors that propel the eye outwards also reference the dynamic explorations of motion that characterize the Italian Futurists’ urban celebrations of modernity, while the overlapping streaks and smudges recall the schismatic personal expression of Cy Twombly, and, when viewed from a distance, the composition as a whole echoes the graphic power of Roy Lichtenstein’s comic Pop explosions. Evincing Mehretu’s artistic genius, these deeply discordant sources are filtered through her own cultural consciousness and meticulous approach, harmonizing into a uniquely resonant style of history painting, updated for the modern age.

Demonstrating a singular conceptual clarity and technical virtuosity, Rise of the New Suprematists forcefully and stunningly describes the complex and multivalent experience of the contemporary urban landscape. As critic Christopher Knight noted in identifying the present work as a highlight of the 2004 Whitney Biennial: “Incoherent chaos and excruciating control are balanced on a metaphorical knife-edge by the explosive linearity” of this cartographic canvas. (Christopher Knight, “Binary Days at the Biennial,” Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2004, p. 43) Indeed, Rise of the New Suprematists fuses the cartographic logic of architectural mapping with the expressiveness and apparent irrationality of the impulsively-made mark, their electrifying union displayed on a monumental scale. Engaging with art historical iconography while activating an intimate personal vocabulary, Mehretu’s painting offers a new language of abstraction as a way of articulating the inherent paradox of order and disorder that defines the complex nature of our shared experience.

 

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York