Bringing into dialogue two artists, centuries and continents apart, Migrations of Line demonstrates how printmaking techniques can be used to create dynamic series.
Born in Ethiopia in 1970, Julie Mehretu emigrated with her family to the United States at the age of 7 to escape political unrest. Mehretu uses her work to explore the topic of migration, drawing on both her own experience and that of countless others.
Printmaking offers a particularly good framework for Julie Mehretu to pursue her interest in layered imagery. She has developed her own language of lines and symbols through a variety of techniques. These five etchings were created with the Brooklyn-based Australian master printer Greg Burnet. Since the invention of printmaking (a development that dates back as early as the year 200 in China), artists who, like Mehretu, lack formal training have enhanced their skills by partnering with collaborators who are more established in the field.
Although her journey didn’t take her across oceans, relocation was also a crucial move for Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella (1637–1676). She left Lyon, France, for the bustling capital city of Paris to find work for herself and family.
Around 1654, Antoinette and her three siblings, who were all trained in engraving, moved to Paris and into their uncle Jacques Stella’s spacious studio and apartments in the Louvre. He died shortly after they arrived, and Claudine, the eldest, took over the business and the space. At the time, it was not uncommon for widows—or, as in this case, other female relatives—to maintain an artistic workshop after the death of the male in charge. In addition to her own designs, Claudine continued to print those created by her uncle, herself, and by Antoinette, including the 25 engravings shown here in this gallery.
Migrations of Line is curated by the AGO’s Associate Curator and R. Fraser Elliott Chair, Prints & Drawings, Alexa Greist.