Picasso's engravings anger Orthodox ChurchBack to list
A scandal has broken out in Novosibirsk where The Temptation, an exhibition of Pablo Picasso's engravings is currently taking place. The exhibition displays 105 of the 347 prints that form part of the Suite 347 series which the artist worked on in 1968.
During last week's meeting with Vladimir Gorodetsky, the Mayor of Novosibirsk, Archbishop Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berdsk levelled sharp criticism at the exhibition which, according to him, had been banned in Moscow. Moreover, according to the Archbishop, «the exhibition has been banned all over the world. It has only been allowed in our city». The Archbishop specifically stressed that there were many children at the exhibition.
Picasso's Suite 347 works are displayed at seven museums which are open to the public: at the Pablo Picasso Museum in Barcelona (Spain), The National Library of France, the Picasso Museum in Paris (France), the Art Institute of Chicago (USA), the Ludwig Museum in Cologne (Germany), the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem and the Gottfried Keller Foundation (Switzerland).
Between November 12 and February 5, the exhibition Picasso. The Temptation was also displayed in Krasnoyarsk, but the Russian Church representatives in that city did not express their indignation to the city administration.
At the end of April the scandalous prints will be displayed at a regional arts museum in Tomsk. Despite the negative opinion of the Russian Church representative in Novosibirsk, the Tomsk clergy seem to have a more relaxed attitude in this regard. 'It is about the cultural life of the city, and the Church has nothing to do with it, said the secretary of the Tomsk Eparchy Victor Sirotin. – We cannot ban people from attending nightclubs. Whether or not one should attend such events is a personal choice that is determined by the individual's moral and spiritual values'.
The works which form part of this series are really quite graphic, but no more so than the works of ancient Greek or ancient Indian artists. The painter created all the 347 works in seven months – between March 16 and October 5 1698. The series is composed of several parts: Rafael's love scenes with his beloved Fornarina who are being peeped at by Michelangelo and Pope Julius II; remakes of famous paintings by Rembrandt, Manet, Degas, Velazquez and Delacroix; variations on the subject 'the artist and his model', and others.
Natalia Yaroslavtseva, the Minister of Culture for the Novosibirsk Region, has written an official letter to Russian Orthodox Church representatives in which she stressed that «world culture should form part of exhibition-related policies of the region's museums, and knowledgeable and well-educated citizens should choose for themselves which exhibitions they should attend».
The minister also refers to the Russian Government's regulation N 609 of June 26, 1995 which states that government bodies «do not interfere with the professional and creative activity of cultural organizations» unless this activity «leads to the propaganda of war, violence or cruelty, or of racial, national, religious, class or other type of superiority or intolerance, or pornography». 'None of those prohibitive factors apply to the exhibition taking place at the Novosibirsk regional history museum,' stresses the minister.