The New York Times devotes a fair amount of space to the strange and convoluted tale of the Nukus Museum hidden in Uzbekistan. It’s the subject of an American documentary called, “the Desert of Forbidden Art:”
In the 1990s, when Western journalists and diplomats first happened upon the museum, it seemed like the beginning of an art-world fairy tale. Hanging in crude frames were vivid, saturated works that ran the gamut of early-20th-century styles, from Fauvism and Expressionism to Futurism and Constructivism. The Savitsky collection promised to fill in a missing chapter of art history, chronicling mostly forgotten Soviet artists who were exploring new directions before the early 1930s, when the Stalin regime condemned “decadent bourgeois art” in favor of idealized paintings of factory and farmworkers. […]
But late last year Uzbek officials abruptly gave the Nukus Museum 48 hours to evacuate one of its two exhibition buildings, so staff members ended up stacking hundreds of fragile canvases and paper works on the floor of the other space. The building has since stood empty, its fate unknown, and more than 2,000 works are no longer on view at the museum, more formally known as the Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art. The museum’s director, Marinika M. Babanazarova, who has fiercely guarded the collection for 27 years, was not permitted to travel to the United States for a trip that was to include a screening of the documentary at the National Gallery of Artin Washington.
‘Decadent’ Russian Art, Still Under the Boot’s Shadow (New York Times)