A Blockbuster Exhibition, Ripped in Two by Russia’s War

Hundreds of visitors to the National Gallery in London every day this week said:After Impressionism”— acclaimed exhibition Find out how painters such as Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Picasso pushed art in bold new directions at the turn of the 20th century.

Similarly, art lovers will visit the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, 2,700 miles away.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the two museums collaborated on a single “After Impressionism” exhibition that brought together masterpieces from each institution’s vast holdings. The exhibition was supposed to open in London and then move to Moscow. Shaw is now divorced. Cézanne’s National His Gallery Edition of The Bather is only seen in London, but Henri Matisse’s ‘Pink Studio’, a 1911 major painting of vibrant color and vivid decoration, remains in Moscow .

Over the past year, the National Gallery curator has Search worldwide Paintings and sculptures to replace 15 masterpieces expected from Russia. Pushkin’s curator, in turn, refocus this is “After Impressionism, opened Tuesday for Russian artists. Last year, Russia’s Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova said it was important to go ahead with planned exhibitions with foreign museums, even if they refused to lend works to Russia.

At a time when Western opera houses and concert halls wrestle with whether to resume work with Russian singers and musicians, Western museums are stuck with the decision to cut off Russia’s state institutions until the end of the war. is showing. Telephone talks between colleagues on both sides continue, but otherwise Russian museums are cut off from Western influence and partnerships.

In a recent statement, Russia’s Ministry of Culture downplayed the impact of its isolation and touted potential cultural cooperation with countries that have not condemned the war, such as China, Oman and even Cuba.

MaryAnne Stevens, chief curator of the National Gallery’s After Impressionism, said in an interview that the situation feels like a throwback to the 1970s. At the time, Westerners had a hard time borrowing from Russia’s incredible art collections, hindering academic research.

The feeling that Russia is shutting down has intensified in recent weeks as the government changed the leadership of some of Moscow’s biggest museums, ousting directors who were pushing joint projects with Western institutions. rice field.

Last month, Pushkin’s longtime director and driving force behind the joint show After the Impressionists, Marina Roshak, resigned from the position she had held for ten years.

In a statement regarding Puskin’s Social Media Accountsshe said it was time for a new director to “bring new energy, new ideas, new ambitions”. In an interview he said: Artistic newspaper Russia she wanted to leave Pushkin on her own termsRoshak was replaced by Elizaveta Likhacheva, former director of the Shchusev Museum of Architecture in Russia.

In February, there was a similar changing of the guard at Moscow’s other major museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and the Ministry of Culture announced the sudden dismissal of Zelfira Treglova, the staunchly independent director of the Tretyakov Gallery since 2015. announced that she was replaced by Elena Pronicheva, who previously ran the Polytechnic Museum, a science collection in Moscow.

Under Treglova’s leadership, the Tretyakov Gallery has staged or hosted some amazing contemporary art shows, including one celebrating diversity and European unity, and has loaned works from its collections across Europe. In January, the ministry wrote to the museum asking it to do more to promote “traditional Russian spiritual and moral values.” According to the Moscow Times reportA few weeks later, the ministry decided not to renew Treglova’s contract.Tregloire He told reporters he learned of the decision from reports.

Both Loshak and Tregulova declined requests for interviews for this article. The Pushkin Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery did not respond to similar requests.

British art historian Catherine Phillips, who has worked at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg since the 1990s, said in an interview that although the changes were clear, it seemed that the government wanted to show its power over cultural life. Rather than changing the content of the museum or “micromanaging the culture”.

But some museums in Russia, especially military and historical sites, have seen a more patriotic turn in the last decade. Over the past year, Culture Minister Lyubimova has visited and admired several such shows. Moscow exhibition worshiping Russian warrior saintsThe show could have probably been conceived “in a completely different setting, with a different message,” she said, according to a news release, “but it was even more so to open this exhibition today.”

Of all the museums in Russia, the Hermitage Museum, founded in the 18th century by the German princess Catherine II, who became Empress of Russia, has the greatest links with Western Europe. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Hermitage Museum was replaced by the Fabergé Egg in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Louis in Paris Her Vuitton Foundation painting, picasso portrait From an Italian museum.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage Museum. Piotrovsky, who has been in charge of the museum since 1990, is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. issued a statement in support of the Russian aggression. last year, Interview with Russian newspaperPiotrovsky said he felt “stabbed in the back” when a foreign museum cut ties with his institution.

In an emailed statement, Piotrovsky said the “lockdown of Russian museums” had forced museums to change the way they operate. “We have been looking at opportunities to host private collections and exhibitions from friendly countries,” he said.

With fewer international tourists, the museum is turning around to maintain its global presence. Piotrovsky said the Hermitage has become more active online, including offering virtual his museum tours. In March, the museum began broadcasting a live feed from his trained webcam. Two of its greatest modern masterpieces — “Dance” and “Music” by Matisse — so that art lovers outside Russia can see them.

Piotrovsky said the museum will also function outside of Russia by hosting events in Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans, but did not elaborate on what that would entail.

Officially, Russian museums may now face the East, but Vladimir Opredelenov, the former deputy director of the Pushkin Museum, who left after the Russian invasion, said in an e-mail interview that museums in the West and Russia are still facing. said they are cooperating. form instead of the official channel”.

Once the war is over, “museums will be the first to set an example and resume cultural exchanges,” he added.

Until then, Russian museums should cooperate with countries in the Middle East and Asia to spread creativity, said Opredelenov. “I hope the global community understands and accepts this.”

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