Katya Kazakina went to a fundraiser for the Hermitage Museum at Christie’s to learn that the Russian treasure trove has little Contemporary art and none from the US during the late 20th Century. So the museum’s director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, is getting creative about it:
In recent years, the Hermitage has mounted exhibitions of works by Cy Twombly, late de Kooning and pieces from the Saatchi collection. While in New York, Piotrovsky met with artist Anselm Kiefer and people representing the estate of Sol LeWitt to discuss possible projects. The museum is planning to show some of Broad’s collection, Piotrovsky said.
One contemporary-art exhibition that fell through in recent years was to feature Damien Hirst’s $100 million diamond- encrusted skull.
“We had to provide so much security, as if we were showing the golden mask of Tutankhamun,” said Piotrovsky. “It turned out to be too expensive for us.”
While it ended 2009 with a $2.1 million surplus, the museum relies heavily on federal funds, which accounted for 82 percent of the $100 million that the museum refers to as revenue in a financial statement for 2009. Russian corporations and individuals, including billionaire Vladimir Potanin, donated between $2 million and $5 million, Piotrovsky said.
“It’s a lot for Russia, where philanthropy is disliked and even hated,” said Piotrovsky.
Hermitage Courts Eli Broad, Loses Hirst Skull, Pursues Postwar Art Gifts (Bloomberg)