London’s National Gallery canceled a plan with Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, to jointly organize an exhibition around modern art. The collaboration was nixed by the British institution in early March following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Art Newspaper reports.
National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi is now working with its curators to replace 15 loans originally set to be supplied by the Pushkin museum for the show, titled “After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art”. The Pushkin’s director, Marina Loshak, was overseeing the loan. (Loshak could not be reached for comment.)
The exhibition, which is set to go on view in London in March 2023, will focus on the defining modern art movements, from Post-Impressionism to Fauvism, Cubism, and abstraction. Artists in the show include Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rodin, Degas, Munch, Klimt, Derain, Maillol and Mondrian. The show planned to explore the nascent avant-garde scene in Moscow before relations with Russia soured.
The Russian city was dropped from the exhibition’s plan amid the fallout from Ukraine invasion. The moves comes amid a period of isolation for the Russian arts sector from the rest of the museum world, which began in early March: Kremlin-affiliated trustees at international museums were asked to step down, while major exhibitions involving Russian art and preparations for Russia’s participation in the Venice Biennale pavilions were halted. Meanwhile, Russian art loans from Italy to South Korea were frozen in transit.
Since taking up the director position in 2013, Loshak has focused on developing the Moscow museum’s ties with institutions abroad in an effort to bolster its international reputation. (Her colleague, Vladimir Opredelenov, the former deputy director of the Pushkin Museum, resigned in March following the Russian invasion.)
As part of the initial deal, the Pushkin agreed to provide ten paintings and sculptures and help secure an additional group of five works from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, which houses the collections of modern art collectors Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov.
Fallout from the war in Ukraine is only one the London museum is currently contending with, as plans to revamp its historic Sainsbury wing face pushback. A new move approved by Westminster planning committee to renovate the build postmodern wing, which was built in 1991, has been criticized by architectural planners, who have said the current proposals would introduce irreversible changes to the building. According to Finaldi, the renovation aims to address issues related to museum visitors’ experience, such as accessibility and sustainability, which have become increasingly pressing for large-scale museums amid heightened public scrutiny.