Category: The Arts

Get Outside

Get Outside

Now that your New Year’s hangover is over and you’ve eaten your weight in salad Olivier — it’s the perfect time to head outdoors.

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Mikhail Piotrovsky—Hermitage chief for 26 years—is an Old Master of diplomacy

Mikhail Piotrovsky—Hermitage chief for 26 years—is an Old Master of diplomacy

Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum, is awarded the Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin in 2016 courtesy The Kremlin At the opening of the State Hermitage Museum’s Piero della Francesca exhibition earlier this month, its director of 26 years, Mikhail Piotrovsky, hailed the event as a landmark in Italian-Russian cultural relations and a singular curatorial feat that only the mighty Hermitage could pull off. The museum overcame formidable political, legal and bureaucratic barriers “with the will of God”, Piotrovsky said. However, he did not mention the acrimonious collapse of negotiations for the star loan—Piero’s altarpiece of the Madonna della Misericordia…

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Holiday Shopping

Holiday Shopping

From wrapping paper and tinsel to unique gifts for family and friends: there are so many wonderful holiday shopping options to discover in Moscow.

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Britain’s pillaging of the Benin Bronzes begs for a reasonable resolution

Britain’s pillaging of the Benin Bronzes begs for a reasonable resolution

The Benin Bronzes at the British Museum © British Museum In 1897, British troops marched on Benin City, the capital of the fabled West African kingdom of Benin, ruled over by a powerful Oba. The attack was called a “punitive expedition” because it was a retaliatory response to the Oba having massacred a British delegation of eight officials, two traders and local escorts the previous month. After the British victory, the troops destroyed the town and took away nearly 2,000 plaques and sculptures, known thereafter as the “Benin Bronzes”. These pieces were brought back to Britain: many were transferred by the Foreign Office to the…

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Lost Frida Kahlo painting and Diego Rivera mural at centre of new show looking at couple’s Russian links

Lost Frida Kahlo painting and Diego Rivera mural at centre of new show looking at couple’s Russian links

Diego Rivera’s 4m-wide mural Glorious Victory (1954, top) languished in a store room at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow for around half a century © Courtesy of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow Glorious Victory (1954), a four-metre-wide mural by Diego Rivera, and a photograph of Frida Kahlo’s lost painting The Wounded Table (1940), are among the highlights of a Moscow survey of the Mexican couple. The exhibition, which opens today (20 December), includes more than 90 works, with most of the loans coming from the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City, supplemented by private collections in Mexico and…

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Museums must confront the big issues

Museums must confront the big issues

Tristram Hunt, the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum © 2017 Getty Images Public museums “are the true teachers of a free people”. So said Gottfried Semper—architect, democrat and social reformer—when making the case for London’s South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert Museum) in the mid-19th century. Semper thought that the rising tide of democracy in the 1800s meant that public collections had a pivotal duty to educate “our future masters”. Today, the role of museums in supporting democracy strikes me as more vital than it has been for a generation. Around the world, the post-war tenets of liberal democracy are crumbling,…

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Moscow residents petition Garage Museum to reject sponsorship from property developer

Moscow residents petition Garage Museum to reject sponsorship from property developer

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow’s Gorky Park © Alexey Naroditskiy Moscow residents angry about the reconstruction of their neighbourhood have taken a page from the playbook of Western protestors and started a Change.org petition calling on the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art to end its sponsorship deal with the Russian property developer PIK. Garage was founded by Dasha Zhukova and the billionaire Roman Abramovich, who remain its chief backers, but the museum has recently been expanding its support base. In August, Garage announced a partnership with the PIK Group that provides museum membership cards to new home buyers and highlights their shared…

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Restored Soviet apartment listed on Airbnb takes guests back in time to ‘1930s Russian utopia’

Restored Soviet apartment listed on Airbnb takes guests back in time to ‘1930s Russian utopia’

Alexander Dudnev and Konstantin Gudkov commissioned Less design studio to recreate avant-garde furniture for the flat, including Nikolai Suetin’s famous Suprematist chair and table set Photo: Sergei Kasyuk Two Moscow-based architectural heritage activists have renovated a Soviet avant-garde apartment and are now renting it on Airbnb. In the property listing, Alexander Dudnev and Konstantin Gudkov describe the apartment as a “time machine” to the Stalin era: “Located in a historical constructivist building, carefully restored and fully equipped with authentic and reconstructed furniture, lights and tableware, it will transfer you to 1930s utopia.” Part of a 1932 complex built for the People’s Commissariat of Railways, the…

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Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery develops blockchain app to bring Russian art to the world

Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery develops blockchain app to bring Russian art to the world

Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery wants to “overcome geographical limitations” and engage a younger audience Pixabay Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery is harnessing blockchain technology to power a new app that digitises its entire collection of more than 190,000 objects and encourages the public to sponsor them. In what is being described as a “new form of public involvement in art”, the My Tretyakov app invites each user to become a patron of a work and to build their own online collections. Donors can either sponsor a work personally or give digital patronage to someone as a gift. The director of the Tretyakov, Zelfira Tregulova, presented the initiative at…

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Cataloguing Egon Schiele: a digital work in progress

Cataloguing Egon Schiele: a digital work in progress

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Black Clay Vase and Spread Fingers (1911) Wien Museum, Vienna A century ago, Egon Schiele died of influenza at the age of 28. Even so, he had produced enough paintings and drawings that the cataloguing of his work is still an ongoing process. Now a digital update of the Schiele catalogue raisonné is available, allowing scholars and other enthusiasts to make rapid connections and to search for works on specific subjects. The database, focusing for now on the Expressionist artist’s oils, prints and sculpture, is the work of a team led by Jane Kallir, the author of the most recent Schiele…

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Berlin’s 200-year-old replica workshop finds a niche at new Museum Island hub

Berlin’s 200-year-old replica workshop finds a niche at new Museum Island hub

The Gipsformerei’s master model for Donatello’s 15th-century bronze of David © Daniel Hofer The first exhibition at the James Simon Gallery—Berlin’s answer to the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris—will shine a light on the city’s little-known Gipsformerei, the largest replica workshop in the world. The institution has reproduced works from the museums of Berlin and other European cities for 200 years and presides over a collection of 7,000 plaster-casts. Its contemporary customers include the artists Jeff Koons and Isa Genzken. The Gipsformerei will celebrate its bicentenary in 2019 with the exhibition Lifecasts, opening on 30 August at the gallery, a new entrance building for…

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Staff at State Russian Museum take legal action to halt renovation

Staff at State Russian Museum take legal action to halt renovation

The St Petersburg museum holds the world’s largest collection of Russian art © Ovchinnikova Irina/Shutterstock.com Staff of the State Russian Museum are taking legal action to protest against the imminent $17m reconstruction of its main building, the Mikhailovsky Palace in St Petersburg. They argue that the project has not been properly vetted and threatens both the 19th-century structure designed by Carlo Rossi, an Italian architect to the tsars, and one of the world’s most important collections of Russian art. There was no public consultation on the reconstruction, says Irina Shalina, an art historian who works with the museum’s icon collection. She gained access to the…

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From counting muddles  to collective cuddles: the art world’s highs and lows of 2018

From counting muddles to collective cuddles: the art world’s highs and lows of 2018

A screenshot of Banksy’s video on his Instagram account Instagram/Banksy Good year for… Shredders For so long associated with illegal destruction, shredders had an image-overhaul as a creative force this year, when Banksy shredded his painting Girl with Balloon (2006) live at a Sotheby’s auction. Because of an extraordinarily serendipitous failure in Banksy’s mechanism, it stopped halfway and the shredding actually increased the value of Banksy’s work. It no doubt prompted speculator-collectors to ponder whether splicing their zombie formalist paintings might make them worth something again. Vincent van Gogh The Dutch master has been the subject of several films, but this year’s At Eternity’s Gate…

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Jump-bidding for Rembrandt’s fingerprints and a tale of two Van Dycks: dispatches from London’s Old Master auctions

Jump-bidding for Rembrandt’s fingerprints and a tale of two Van Dycks: dispatches from London’s Old Master auctions

Rembrandt’s Study of the head and clasped hands of a young man as Christ in prayer (around 1655) Courtesy of Sotheby’s Van Dycks are like buses—you wait years for a full-length portrait of Princess Mary, then two come along at once. This must have gone through the minds of Sotheby’s specialists when, shortly after it revealed its 1641 painting of Charles I’s daughter by Anthony Van Dyck and his studio, Christie’s announced it had an autograph version of the same work from the same year for the December season of sales in London. While Sotheby’s noted that parts of its painting (Mary’s head and hands)…

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