Russia has blocked Sweden from borrowing Marc Chagall paintings for an upcoming exhibition of the artist’s work, the Millesgarden Museum in Stockholm said Thursday, following a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.
Museum curator Onita Wass told AFP that the museum has been forced to cancel the exhibition of 48 works by French-Russian artist Chagall and several of his contemporaries.
“We worked in cooperation with the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg to put together an exhibition on Marc Chagall and the Russia of his time, but the culture ministry didn’t permit us to borrow the works… forcing us to cancel the exhibition,” said Wass.
“Now we have an exhibition catalog, but no exhibition,” she added ruefully.
Tensions between Moscow and Stockholm have risen against the backdrop of the worst East-West standoff since the end of the Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine.
In August, Russia confirmed that it had expelled a Swedish diplomat in retaliation for the Scandinavian country kicking out one of its own.
Sweden said the Russian diplomat’s actions were “not in line with the Vienna Convention” which governs diplomatic relations.
Chagall, known for his colorful, dream-like paintings, was born in the town of Vitebsk, then part of the Russian empire now in Belarus, in 1887 to Jewish parents.
He fled to the United States during the Second World War before eventually settling in France where he died in 1985.
Wass said that the Russian culture ministry changed its demands several times during discussions over the exhibition, eventually saying Sweden didn’t offer the warranties necessary to borrow the paintings.
The Millesgarden Museum has collaborated previously with the Russian museum — in 1999 and 2000 — without any troubles.