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Russian art gift to Pompidou Center unveils Russia-France cross year

The director of the Centre Pompidou says a donation is of great importance for the life of every museum
The French Pompidou modern arts center EPA/JEREMY LEMPIN
The French Pompidou modern arts center

MOSCOW, August 30. /TASS/. The Russia-France cross year of cultural tourism will open with a remarkable event, in which a collection of Russian paintings of the 1950s-2000s will be donated to the French Pompidou modern arts center.

The paintings come from collectors, the painters themselves and their families, Russian president’s special representative for international cultural cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy told a news conference on Tuesday.

"Such projects are a symbol of high political trust between the states," he said. "Despite a very difficult international background, relations between Russia and France are developing so that we are holding a cross year of cultural tourism with several very important events to be held within this framework," he said.

Best from Russia to France

Mikhail Shvydkoy said this gift will by no means empty Russian museums, as they possess analogues of these paintings. "Everything takes place under the supervision of directors of major Russian museums, who, as you understand, know where their interests are," Putin’s special representative for international cultural cooperation said.

Focusing on the large-scale project, he said "in this case we are presenting a modern Russia, a different, developing, democratic, European, universal country". "We can often hear - Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekov, ballet, ... full stop," he went on. "Today we can say that we are presenting not only the great classic culture of Russia, but also a modern Russia," Shvydkoy said.

The director of the Centre Pompidou, Bernard Blistene, said for his part that such a donation is of great importance for the life of every museum - 250 artworks will be featured in an exhibition within half-a-year, and then they will make part of permanent exhibits to be shown on a rotation basis.

"As for Russian Avant-garde, we have one of the best collections in the world, but as for the second half of the 20th century, it’s not that we don’t have anything at all, but we have failed to collect and present these movements in full," he said.

Blistene said the project could not be called exhaustive, "but we can show prospects and points of development, great moments of Russian art from the 1950s and up to the recent past". The earliest in time are paintings by abstract painter Yury Zlotnikov, the most recent are those by Pavel Pepperstein, participant of numerous exhibitions and Venice Biennale.

The Russian curator of the project is the director of Multimedia Art Museum, Olga Sviblova, the French curator is Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov.

"For me, this is unique event, as Russian people have teamed for this project. We have all, we are strong in everything, but unification is not our strong point. It was teamwork on the collection, in which people were giving away paintings, and this is more than giving your skin," she said. "This is not just colossal material means - this is about giving away what you love," she explained.

The donated paintings will be featured in an exhibition that will open on September 14. The uniqueness of the project, supported by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, is that isolated Russian artworks can be found in London’s Tate Modern, in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, but none of the foreign museums has ever had such a full retrospective of Russian art.

Shvydkoy also reminded reporters that the Russian Spiritual and Cultural Center will be unveiled in Paris in the second decade of October, while from October 22 visitors of Louis Vuitton Foundations will be able to enjoy the exhibition "Icons of Modern Art. The Shchukin Collection" from St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage and the Moscow Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

The Pushkin Museum, in its turn, will feature an exhibition devoted to Andre Malraux - a French writer, culture expert and minister of culture under the presidency of Charles de Gaulle.