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Germany says had to cancel show of Iran shah’s art trove

German cultural officials said Tuesday they had to cancel a planned Berlin exhibition of an Iranian treasure trove of Western modern art after Tehran refused to provide an export permit.

Germany says had to cancel show of Iran shah's art trove
Photo: DPA

The show of paintings collected by the wife of Iran's late shah, featuring masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Andy Warhol, had been billed as a symbol of a diplomatic thaw since Iran's nuclear deal with western powers.

But controversy flared after the Tehran museum chief this year handed out an award for a Holocaust cartoon, and the loan project was reportedly further complicated by fears in the Islamic republic about legal claims if the pictures travel abroad.

The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), which manages Berlin's main museums, said Iran's refusal to issue the necessary paperwork forced it to cancel the exhibition that had been agreed with the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

Foundation president Hermann Parzinger said the decision had been taken “with great regret” because “Iran has still not granted an export license for the artworks”.

The exhibition, originally planned to have opened with some 60 loaned artworks in Berlin in early December, could not be delayed any longer, he said in a statement.

“However, the SPK remains committed to cultural exchange, including with Iran, and will continue to promote this dialogue with the appropriate measures,” he said.

In Iran, the management of the Tehran museum was not immediately available for comment, staff told AFP.

The Tehran collection, reputed to be the greatest lineup of modern masterpieces outside of Europe and the United States, also includes major works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the works assembled under the patronage of his wife Farah Pahlavi have not been shown together outside Iran, according to the SPK.

Recalling the Iran nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had earlier hailed the exhibition project as a sign of Iran's “cultural and social opening up”.

The agreement was marred, however, in May when the Tehran museum director Majid Mollanoroozi handed out an award for an antisemitic cartoon about the Holocaust, sparking protests from Israel and Germany.

The Economist magazine has also reported that “influential voices” in Iran's art world have warned that there might be legal claims against the collection and that it risked being seized.

 

ART

Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021

With tougher Covid-19 restrictions now in place in Germany, travelling and socialising have become increasingly limited. So we’ve compiled a list of fun events for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home!

Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021
The entrance to Berlin's Alte Nationalgallerie. Photo: DPA

Here are some events and ongoing activities to look out for in February.

Berlin Philharmonic returns to the 1920s, Saturday, February 13th 2021 at 6:45pm

Berliner Philharmoniker is streaming the 1920s First Symphony Opera, one of German composer Kurt Weill’s early performances. 

As described by the orchestra, this piece’s music is “captivating and triumphant”. The music was composed in 1927 and its story takes place in ancient Greece. 

Final Girls Film Festival, February 4th at 1pm to February 8th at 11:59pm

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival showcases horror cinema that’s directed, written, or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. 

The festival is committed to creating space for female voices and visions, whether monstrous, heroic or some messy combination of the two, in the horror genre.

Berliner Festspiele, Strong Pieces Stream, Until March 

Berliner Festspiele is showing two of their top picks.

“The Misanthrope” is a Molière’s classic staged by Anne Lenk, and translated by Jürgen Gosch and Wolfgang Wiens. It’s been called a straightforward delight with an exceptional concentration of language and wit. 

And “Man appears in the Holocene” is staged by Alexander Giesches after Max Frisch’s novella about mankind’s Sisyphus-struggle against their own doom.

König Gallerie, 'Dreaming of Alligator Head' by Claudia Comte, January 21st 2021- January 12th 2022

With her digital solo exhibition Dreaming of Alligator Head, Comte creates a scenario that is impossible in reality: She plants her underwater sculpture park in the König Gallerie app. The digital visitors inside experience a fascinating underwater world without having to go on a physical journey. 

Comte also seeks to raise awareness of marine environments and ask how an artistic object can change the world. Check out the exhibition on the König Gallerie app. 

Galerie Tanja Wagner, How to be human, until February 13th 2021 

Celebrating 10 years of the opening of her contemporary art gallery, Tanja Wagner’s exhibition, How to Be Human showcases her personal favourite works of artists she has collaborated with.

It includes Grit Richter’s famous work, Das Letzte Wort, as well as other works that in Wagner’s opinion, seek to explore the question ’How to Be Human’. 

Alte Nationalgalerie Online, until further notice

The Alte Nationalgalerie was set up as a “sanctuary for art and science”. The idea for a national gallery was realised after the donation of a collection of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich to the Prussian state. 

Since Covid-19 has made it difficult to visit the otherwise very popular museum, the gallery has made its collection available online until further notice. 

Naturkundemuseum Berlin, Beats and Bones Podcast and Livestream, Mondays at 7pm, until further notice 

Berlin’s Naturkundemuseum is offering a podcast series where nature experts from the museum answer questions about the diversity of nature, evolution, the formation of the earth, climate change and insect death.

They explore questions such as “Who knows our earliest ancestors were 480 million-year-old jawless fish?” Or, ‘What is the Achilles heel of Tyrannosaurus rex’? 

Catch new episodes every Monday on Instagram, along with a live stream through the museum with experts accompanying you through the collection and exhibition. The previous episodes are available on Spotify as well as Youtube. 

Anne Frank Zentrum, All about Anne, until further notice 

The Anne Frank Zentrum's exhibition “All about Anne” is normally presented at Hackescher Markt in Berlin-Mitte. Since lockdown, the exhibition has been made available online. 

Its exhibition tells the story of Anne Frank's life and the time in which she lived. It also explains why her diary is so well-known today and shows that her thoughts are still relevant. 

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