|Russia's great museums feud over revival plan of Moscow museum of Western art|
A file photo taken on February 28, 2013 shows Moscow's Pushkin Fine Art State Museum Director Irina Antonova as she crosses a hall of the museum in Moscow. Russia's two greatest art museums were engaged Tuesday in an unsightly public feud over an idea to revive a Moscow museum of Western art that was shut down by Stalin in the late 1940s. Its collection was divided between the broader Pushkin Art Museum in Moscow and the famed Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. The redoubtable director of the Pushkin Museum, Irina Antonova, 91, last week personally asked President Vladimir Putin during his annual phone-in with Russians to consider reopening the museum in Moscow with its original collection. AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV.
By: Stuart Williams
MOSCOW (AFP).- Russia's two greatest art museums were engaged Tuesday in an unsightly public feud over an idea to revive a Moscow museum of Western art that was shut down by Stalin in the late 1940s.
The State Museum of New Western Art gathered the impressionist and early modern art collected by renowned Russian art collectors Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov in the late Tsarist era.
But it was closed on Stalin's orders in 1948 as the Soviet authorities rejected anything reeking of "cosmopolitanism" in a drive to play up the importance of Soviet art.
Its collection was divided between the Pushkin Art Museum in Moscow and the famed Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, where the pictures can be seen to this day.
The redoubtable director of the Pushkin Museum, Irina Antonova, 91, last week personally asked President Vladimir Putin during his annual phone-in with Russians to consider reopening the museum in Moscow with its original collection.
However the idea did not in the least impress the Hermitage museum, which under the plan could see some of its most prized Matisse, Degas and Picasso pictures transferred back to Moscow.
"This new attempt to break up the Hermitage is a crime against the stability of the whole museum landscape in Russia, whose unity and riches have been preserved with such difficulty," fumed Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky, quoted by the government Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily.
Antonova however launched a stout defence of her position saying the recreation of the museum was a question of "historical fairness".
"The state destroyed this museum. The state has the chance to revive it. This is my opinion," she said.
In response to Antonova's request, Putin on Tuesday asked the government to draw up by June 15 a report on the viability of recreating the Western art museum in Moscow.
Putin had bluntly asked Piotrovsky on air during the live phone-in if he was "ready to return part of the (Hermitage) collection to Moscow and revive a museum of modern art". But the Hermitage chief at the time ducked the question.
Morozov and Shchukin amassed two of the greatest collections anywhere of European art.
But like other private collections, their holdings were nationalised after the Russian revolution and used to form the basis of the Museum of New Western Art (GMNZI) which was founded in 1928.
Among the paintings transferred to the Hermitage after the Moscow museum's closure is possibly its most single famous picture -- the massive "Dance" by Henri Matisse which occupies an entire wall -- as well as a priceless collection of early Picasso.
Piotrovsky ridiculed the idea that recreating the museum could have anything to do with historical fairness, describing the moves as showing a "primitive attitude towards national culture."
The dispute has highlighted the rivalry between the Pushkin Museum and the Hermitage, with the much older Saint Petersburg institution keen to affirm its supremacy over the Moscow museum which was opened only in 1912.
In a statement explaining the background to the dispute, the Hermitage said the Museum of New Western Art's collection had been divided up under an agreement between the directors of the two museums in 1948.
The paintings came to the Hermitage in compensation for hundreds of old master artworks taken from the Hermitage to Moscow in the 1920s by Soviet officials when the Pushkin museum was being expanded.
The Pushkin Museum at the time "showed no special interest" in the collections of Picasso and Matisse, the Hermitage noted icily.
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
May 1, 2013
Christie's in Geneva to offer one of the largest pear-shaped diamonds known to date
Excavation unearths evidence of Thessaloniki's urban life between 4th and 9th centuries AD
RM Auctions and Sotheby's to showcase automotive artistry at exclusive New York sale
Russia's great museums feud over revival plan of Moscow museum of Western art
Amon Carter Museum of American Art announces acquisition of its first painting by Robert Seldon Duncanson
Survey exhibition of American artist Ellen Gallagher's work opens at Tate Modern
Newly discovered pastoral painting by F. G. Waldmüller leads 19th Century European Art at Christie's
Rediscovered masterpieces to be exhibited in Belfast and Dublin ahead of Sotheby's sale
Sydney's Bondi Beach to receive green makeover hoping to cement status as world-class destination
Illuminating objects: German miniature picture bibles come under the spotlight at the Courtauld Gallery
Städel Museum exhibits newly acquired contemporary works in its garden
First solo museum exhibition of Jeffrey Gibson opens at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Christie's showcases masterworks of American Modernism in its Spring sale of American Art
New York's MoMA moves to seven-day week
Bridgette Mayer Gallery announces "Above and Below" by photographer Sharon Harper
Scandal '63: The fiftieth anniversary of the Profumo Affair on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Sotheby's announces an extraordinary auction of 50 contemporary first edition books
1960 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst guitar brings $134,500 to lead $1.13+ million Heritage Auctions' event
Exceedingly rare 3.50 carat natural fancy blue VS1 diamond brings $1.65+ million at Heritage Auctions
Huge two-day multi-estate auction featuring over 1,650 lots to be held by Crescent City Auction Gallery
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Regrets: Upper Belvedere opens exhibition featuring recent work by Jasper Johns
2.- Swedish-born star of La Dolce Vita, Anita Ekberg, has died in Rome at the age of 83
3.- Swedish archaeologists find rare 2,500-year-old relief depicting two pharaonic deities
4.- 'American Dreams: Paintings by John Mellencamp' opens at the Morris Museum of Art
5.- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum welcomes Nathaniel Silver as Assistant Curator of the Collection
6.- Art Institute names new curator: Rebecca Long will be responsible for Italian and Spanish art
7.- The 'Holy Grail' of electric guitars, the original Les Paul 'Black Beauty' prototype, up for auction at Guernsey's
8.- 10,000 photos taken between 1840 and 1920 from Jerome Manin's collection to be sold
9.- Special Asterix cartoons to honour French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo dead
10.- The art world uncovered: Art travel experiences like you've never seen before
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|