As America-Russia relations grow ever frostier, several billionaire art collectors and museum founders have found themselves on a ‘name-and-shame’ list released by the US Treasury dubbed the Kremlin Report. The list claims to cite individuals who have made their money corruptly through ties to Vladmir Putin, and includes Roman Abramovich, Vladimir Potanin and Boris Mints. However, according to the Guardian the original, well-researched list was inexplicably dumped last minute in favour of a direct copy of the Forbes magazine’s ranking of wealthy Russians.
In more Russia-related activity, a show at the Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Ghent has closed after it was revealed that nearly all of the works on display in its Russian Modernism 1910-30 exhibition were fakes. An extensive investigation by The Art Newspaper followed denouncements from various curators and art historians, proving that multiple forgeries had taken place in order to attribute dubious pieces to Kandinsky, Malevich, El Lissitzky, Popova, Rodchenko and others. The questionable works all come from the Dieleghem Foundation, set up by collector Igor Toporovsky and his wife Olga.
While Ghent suffered forcibly empty walls, Manchester Art Gallery took it upon themselves to temporarily remove one of their most famous paintings, Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs, in order “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection.” Visitors are invited to stick notes in the space where the image of a man being lured into the water by young, naked women normally hangs, and offer their views. Unsurprisingly there’s been fiery exchanges on Post-its and social media alike.
In a less heavy-handed call for debate London’s Foundling Museum has announced it will crowdfund for an exhibition that replaces the portraits of its male governors with those of the twenty-one women who first petitioned to establish the building that housed the children of “fallen women”. Despite their huge influence these advocates have been completely erased from the Foundling Museum’s history.
Back across the pond, there have been as-yet unconfirmed rumblings that Frieze will launch a new LA outpost in January 2019, in addition to its New York and London offerings, which will surely see a scramble of art folk following the Miami Art Basel aftermath, in an effort to keep their tans topped up.
Lastly, a more museological scramble is well under way as international institutions fight to secure loans to commemorate 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci’s death in 2019. Confirmed exhibitors include the Teylers Museum in Haarlem in the Netherlands; the Uffizi Gallery and Museo Galileo in Florence; the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and a massive Louvre blockbuster, all of whom will undoubtedly roll their eyes at anyone who dares to mistakenly refer to the Renaissance master as ‘Da Vinci’ –– Dan Brown, you’ve got a lot to answer for.