Three to see

Three to see: New York

From Medieval Europe to contemporary China


Virgin and Child with Angels from Lower Bavaria (around 1520) courtesy of Sam Fogg, London and Luhring Augustine, New York

Frequent visitors to Luhring Augustine Gallery might be surprised by its current show, which hops back in time several centuries from the gallery’s usual presentations of 20th- and 21st- century art to medieval Europe. Of Earth and Heaven: Art from the Middle Ages (until 10 March), a collaboration with the London dealer Sam Fogg, is an impressive group of 12th- to 16th-century European art from private collections, including manuscripts, stained glass, architectural fragments, sculptures and paintings. The show has monumental works, such as the stained-glass window of the Creation of the World and the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (1533) by the glass-painter Valentin Bousch. But smaller pieces, like a enamelled plaque which shows Saint Matthew, from the tomb of Henry I, Count of Champagne, at the Troyes Cathedral (around 1180), which is only 6.3 cm by 3.8 cm, are just as breathtaking. Fans of late medieval wooden sculpture will be dazzled by the polychromy remaining on several works like a radiant Virgin and Child with Angels (around 1520) from Lower Bavaria.

The historical residues, ruins and ghosts that the Vietnamese-born Danish artist Dahn Vo collects in his work echo throughout his powerful 15-year retrospective, Take My Breath Away (until 9 May), at the Guggenheim Museum. Vo activates readymade objects—most of them either directly or indirectly autobiographical—to reveal how global politics encroach upon the private, how the personal is warped by social and economic forces. The French and US political and military interventions in Southeast Asia are repeatedly addressed, most evocatively through a series of letters that the national security advisor Henry Kissinger wrote at the time to the theatre critic Leonard Lyles, who routinely gave him free stage tickets. “I would choose your ballets over contemplation of Cambodia any day,” one eerily reads, alluding to the covert military campaign that inflicted thousands of civilian casualties. This “fits perfectly into the time we live in, in the sense that all the brutalities are hidden under these neat surfaces”, Vo says in an interview with the museum.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the four-day event Fantastic Art China (16-19 February), organised by China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), which shows works by established and emerging Chinese artists. The event has three exhibitions under one roof, New Painting: Contemporary Chinese Painting, New Youth: China-America Young Artists and New Video: Contemporary Chinese Video Exhibition—organised by China’s Central Academy of Arts. Discover recent works such as Xie Chenglinas’s humorous cartoon video satire, The Life Smartphone (2017), which shows hunched-over figures staring at their phones when they should be paying attention to their surroundings, from a man walking with a ladder to a doctor—needle in hand—standing over a patient’s waggling exposed bottom. Fantastic Art China also includes a longer-running exhibition, Blurred Boundaries (until 2 March) at the New York School of Interior Design Gallery, which includes the paper-cut collages of Song Xin, who studied in CAFA’s Chinese folk art department.