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Three to see: New York

From the quiet abstraction of Agnes Martin to the violent chiaroscuro of Valentin de Boulogne

by The Art Newspaper  |  6 January 2017
Three to see: New York
Agnes Martin, Mid Winter (around 1954) (Taos Municipal Schools Historic Art Collection, New Mexico © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
Those suffering from the back-to-work-blues should head to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to be soothed by the work of the American artist Agnes Martin (until 11 January) before the show shuts next week. This exhibition of around 115 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints from the 1950s up to the 2000s, is the first major survey of the artist’s work in the US since her death in 2004. The quiet power of Martin’s depictions of “abstract emotions” in her gridded (later striped) canvases transforms the ramp around the museum’s atrium into a slow, contemplative walk. One kinetic work, The Wave (1963), speaks out loud: it is a light blue, wooden and Plexiglas box with beads inside that mimics the sound of the ocean when moved.

Don’t miss Hans Memling: Portraiture, Piety and a Reunited Altarpiece (until 8 January) at the Morgan Library and Museum, which closes this weekend. The exhibition joins the two inner wings of the Flemish master’s Triptych of Jan Crabbe (around 1470)—two of the museum’s treasures—with the other panel of the devotional triptych, which was separated in the 18th century. The show—which also includes portraits by Memling, his contemporaries and followers, drawings and illuminated manuscripts—is a chance to explore his gift for depicting individuals. It also examines his influence on other artists and the connections between panel and manuscript painting during Memling’s time.

Why is the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio (until 22 January) the first monographic exhibition on this painter who became the most famous and successful French follower of Caravaggio? Perhaps it is because there are only around 60 extant works by the artist, 45 of which have been assembled here, including every one of his paintings in the collection of the Louvre Museum, which co-organised the show. The drama in the works is palpable across subjects both sacred and profane. Valentin’s innovative cropping draws you into works like The Dream of Saint Joseph (around 1624-26), in which you can almost feel the action of the angel as he lightly presses the arm of the elderly sleeping saint.

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