Picasso’s engravings anger Russian clergy

Visitors point at a creation by Pablo Picasso from his "Suite 347" erotic graphic series during the opening ceremony of the "Pablo Picasso. The Temptation" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk November 11, 2011. The "Suite 347" cycle, created by Picasso in 1968, is exhibited for the first time in Russia, according to organizers. (Photo: Reuters)

‘The Temptations’, an exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s engravings that opened recently in Novosibirsk, provoked controversy and angered the Russian Orthodox Church

Published in Ahram Online

An exhibition that opened last week in the Russian city of Novosibirsk including a series of engravings by Pablo Picasso has created a stir.

In November 2011, the series was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in Russia’s Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk

The collection displayed in Novosibirsk includes 105 prints from Picasso’s Suite 347 series.

Some 347 different etchings, engravings and drypoints constitute the last great collection of Picasso graphic works created by the artist in just seven months between March and October 1968.

Picasso’s Suite 347 are predominently erotic representations tied to high aesthetic values.

The collection is the artist’s statement against notions promoted at the time by so-called conceptualists, believing that “anyone can be an artist, and anything can be art.”

Picasso’s resistance to that claim was expressed not through words, but through great creativity, proving that in seven months he could create works of great technical and aesthetic intensity.

To date, no other artist has managed to create this amount of work, with such unparalleled artistic perfection, in seven months.

Nonetheless, Archbishop Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berdsk expressed harsh criticism at the exhibition, stating that it is not suitable for young viewers. According to the archibishop, the same collection was previously banned in Moscow, widening his claim to say that it was also banned around the world.

Contrary to archbishop’s beliefs, works constituting Suite 347 are displayed for public viewing at seven museums around the globe: at the Pablo Picasso Museum in Barcelona, the National Library of France, the Picasso Museum in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem and the Gottfried Keller Foundation in Switzerland.

From Novosibirsk the controversial exhibition will travel to Tomsk to be displayed in the regional arts museum.

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