Parisians have turned out in droves to see the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s current exhibition of works owned by Ivan and Mikhail Morozov, two Russian patrons who, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, assembled a world-class collection of modern art. The 1 million people who have gone to the show so far have good reason for visiting it: most of the works on view rarely leave Russian institutions like the Pushkin Museum, the State Hermitage Museum, and the State Tretyakov Galleries.
Now, in a twist, it appears that the Fondation Louis Vuitton could have trouble getting those works back to the very institutions from which they first departed.
Due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, it has become difficult to transport art into or out of either country. Whether the masterpieces by Cézanne, Bonnard, Renoir, and more now in Paris will make it home after the end of the show’s run on April 3 is an open question.
In a press conference held on Tuesday, Alexei Meshkov, a Russian ambassador in Paris, hinted at potential difficulties in transport, saying, “It’s no secret, given the current situation, given all the drastic measures that have been taken, including for example in relation to flights between Russia and France, that problems arise.” He added that he was “convinced that we will find a solution.”
A representative for the Fondation Louis Vuitton declined to comment.
If the Morozov works get stuck in Paris, it would mean that disruptions resulting from the war brought by Russia could have implications elsewhere in the world. While various exhibitions within Russia have been canceled, often as protests by the artists included in them, most international shows featuring loans from Russian institutions have proceeded largely as planned.
Still, it is becoming increasingly clear that exhibitions beyond Russia will likely be impacted going forward. Last week, the Hermitage said it would pull a key loan from a Raphael blockbuster at the National Gallery in London. Four Russian museums also requested the return of its loans to the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan. Those loans feature in a show called “Grand Tour” that is set to close later this month.
Unlike these shows, the loans to the Morozov show are predominantly from Russian institutions, which means that the show as a whole could be impacted, as opposed to just portions of it.
In February, Jean-Paul Claverie, the CEO of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, told Le Figaro that the museum would “ensure” that the works in the show could go back to Russia. “If the conditions for them to travel safely turn out to be insufficient,” he continued, “we will wait.”