Just a week after Irina Antonova stepped down (/was removed? The jury is still out) from her post of Director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, (with the more than capable Marina Loshak stepping in to fill her shoes), the Russian government sent a letter to Hermitage director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, announcing that the government had resolved not to proceed with Antonova’s resolution to re-establish the short-lived Museum of Modern Western Art, which was founded to house the collections of Sergei Schukin and Ivan Morozov, two entreprising collectors who managed to snap up pivotal works by artists like Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, Denis… and the list goes on. (We finally found a nice primer on the collecting habits of the pair, written in part with the Hermitage’s collaboration.) The museum would have reclaimed some of the Hermitage’s most prized possessions, removing them from Petersburg to a new facility down the street from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The project, Antonova argued, would bring a critical mass to Moscow, restoring the city’s title as an art capital. Piotrovsky, understandably, did not hold the same opinion, but, as Antonova claimed, “The restoration of this museum is not the problem of Antonova and Piotrovsky, it’s not the problem of the Hermitage or the Pushkin Museum. It’s a matter of state.”
For its part – prompted by Antonova sneak-attacking Putin in a press conference, which was meant to announce her new position as Chief Curator of Moscow’s Museums, but which she highjacked into a platform for her proposal – the state promised to consider the proposal. The letter sent today makes this decision clear: such a move would be unnecessary, and disruptive.
While this may not be a problem of Antonova and Piotrovsky, or of the Hermitage and the Pushkin Museum, Piotrovsky was certainly quick to post the letter on the Hermitage’s web site. Find it here (in its original Russian.)