This fall, “Icons of Modern Art” at the Louis Vuitton Foundation may be the show that takes Paris by storm. No fewer than 130 paintings by Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin and Derain, among many others, from the collection of the renowned Russian cultural figure Sergei Shchukin will hang on the walls of this museum by Frank Gehry (itself designed like a building painted by Picasso). President François Hollande of France and President Vladimir Putin of Russia will open this exhibition in mid-October in a display of diplomatic handshaking: Culture remains a bridge connecting two countries that have not recently seen eye to eye.
The exhibition includes 30 progeny paintings by Russian avant-garde artists who studied the collection and produced similar work, or took steps beyond. These include Kazimir Malevich, Ivan Kliun and Vladimir Tatlin, who invented worlds of pure abstraction beyond the still-representational work of Matisse and Picasso. But the foundation show really belongs to Shchukin, and not just as a sentimental tribute to a cultural figure only recently emerging from repressive Soviet fogs.
“Icons of Modern Art” makes the case that Shchukin himself was an artist, that his collection was his masterpiece. He painted with paintings, lining his neo-Classical Trubetskoy Palace, creating environments of color and energy.