The Louis Vuitton Foundation Will Show Another Major Russian Art Collection to Follow Its Schchukin Blockbuster

The Morozov Collection includes masterworks by Cézanne, Gauguin, and van Gogh.

Image: Courtesy of Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo and Jean Lariviere.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris has announced plans for yet another blockbuster show: French and Russian art from tsarist-era Moscow collectors Mikhail and Ivan Morozov. The show will include works by Cézanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, and Picasso that have rarely been seen together outside Russia. The opening, which the museum says marks another step in the Franco-Russian cultural friendship, is slated for fall 2020.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir <i>Jeanne Samari</i> ©Musee Pouchkine, Moscow

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Jeanne Samari ©Musee Pouchkine, Moscow

The show follows the foundation’s extraordinarily successful presentation of the collection of Russian textile merchant Sergei Shchukin, which closed in March and marked the first time the works had been shown outside Russia in 100 years.

Considered two of the world’s most important holdings of French Modern art, Shchukin and Morozov’s collections were nationalized by the Bolshevik government in 1918 and eventually divided between the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. They languished in storage for decades, and have since been caught up in a lengthy battle between the collectors’ descendants and the Russian state.


Bernard Arnault.
Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

The Vuitton Foundation is organizing the Morozov collection show with the Hermitage, the Pushkin, and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Along with major works of French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Modernism, it will showcase works by emerging artists from the Russian avant-garde. Following the Paris showing, it will travel to the Hermitage and the Pushkin.

It’s no secret that the vast fortune of the Vuitton Foundation’s owner, billionaire collector Bernard Arnault, is a key factor in its ability to lure such prestigious—and pricey—exhibitions. But Arnault and his team have also managed to break through challenging diplomatic and bureaucratic red tape to make the coveted shows a reality. (The French president François Hollande attended the opening of the Shchukin exhibition, while Vladimir Putin personally thanked Arnault.)

Along with the Shchukin family, the Morozov family figured at the center of Moscow cultural life in the early 20th century and practically invented the notion of “patron of the arts.” According to an essay on the Guggenheim Museum’s website, Morozov’s passion for art began at the same time as Shchukin’s. While he initially collected the work of young Russian painters, in 1907 he began acquiring French art for his newly rebuilt villa, and entered into “fruitful competition” with Shchukin. “But whereas Shchukin was somewhat adventurous, Morozov collected more prudently. He focused on fewer, more select works of the highest quality,” according to the Guggenheim.

The Vuitton Foundation says the upcoming Morozov show is intended to continue the dialogue created by the Shchukin show, which drew more than 1.2 million visitors to the museum in four and a half months.

This is hardly the only high-profile loan show on the schedule at the foundation. This fall (October 11), the Vuitton foundation will open “Etre moderne: le MoMA a Paris,” the first comprehensive show in Paris of the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, featuring paintings, sculpture, performance, design, and other objects.

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