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The New Criterion

The Critic's Notebook
November 12, 2019

By: Andrew Shea

 

“The Art of Marriage: Helen Frankenthaler & Robert Motherwell” at Mnuchin Gallery (through December 14): For our October issue, I wrote about “Abstract Climates,” an exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum that celebrated and investigated Helen Frankenthaler’s travels to Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the 1950s and ’60s. These travels (after an initial stay in 1950 to study under Hans Hofmann) were occasioned by Frankenthaler’s 1958 marriage to Robert Motherwell, with whom she would “summer” in the Cape Cod vacation town regularly for the next dozen years. Now, this marriage is itself the subject of an exhibition, at the Upper East Side’s Mnuchin Gallery. With a catalogue essay by our own Karen Wilkin, the exhibition considers the symbiotic aesthetic relationship between Motherwell and Frankenthaler—how the marriage might have influenced the paintings—even as both remained resolutely independent artists at the heights of their powers. This exhibition of two twentieth-century titans is not to be missed.

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