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Atmosphere of Change:
Interview with Britta Färber and Dr. Ariane Grigoteit on the exhibition “From a German Perspective” at the Pushkin Museum

Pushkin Museum, Moscow

Deutsche Bank’s cultural activities in Russia look back on a long tradition. Since more than a quarter of a century, the bank has been active there, putting on exhibitions and sponsoring culture in the country. Now, the German-Russian Cultural Encounter 2003/2004 has offered the opportunity to present German masterpieces of the 20th century from the largest corporate collection worldwide in a comprehensive exhibition in Moscow: in the Pushkin Museum, From a German Perspective offers insight into the development of the Deutsche Bank Collection, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. In the following interview, the exhibition’s curators Dr. Ariane Grigoteit and Britta Färber comment on the development of this visionary collaboration, in which mutual understanding and dialogue play an important role and art becomes a new type of currency.

Britta Färber at the press conference of "From a German Perspective"

How did the idea for the exhibition From a German Perspective at the Pushkin Museum come about? Can you tell us something about the initial stages?

Britta Färber: In the beginning, we had the idea of contributing something to the German-Russian Cultural Encounter 2003/2004, which is presented under the aegis of the former German president Johannes Rau and the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. While the Cultural Encounter of 2003 was concentrated in Germany, in 2004 the accent in Russia is on German culture. And so, of course, Deutsche Bank – and particularly Dr. Tessen von Heydebreck, the board member responsible for Deutsche Bank’s global cultural and social activities and business interests in Russia – were very pleased when Christina Weiss, state minister for culture and media, invited us to take part. Especially because the bank has been active in Russia for over a quarter of a century with its corporate collection, its numerous exhibitions – most recently in 2002 with Man in the Middle – and its efforts in the area of cultural sponsorship. The cooperation with the Pushkin Museum was excellent for the exhibition, not only because of its important collection of Classic Modernism, but also because their "Museum for Private Collections" is perfectly suited to this show.

Dr. Tessen von Heydebreck and Irina Antonowa at the press conference

Did Deutsche Bank have a relationship with the Pushkin Museum previously?

BF: Yes, although in the beginning it was on a much more personal level. We’d already visited the director of the Pushkin Museum, Irina Antonova, in 1997 together with Georg Baselitz while we were in the process of preparing his large solo exhibition from our collection in Moscow’s New Manege. That was very impressive, because she herself is a highly extraordinary person. The way she stands there – she’s 82 now and still going strong with her alert eyes and excellent German – and brings things right to the point. She’s a brilliant personality, and it’s like experiencing living history right before one’s very eyes. At this point in time, however, there were no concrete plans for a project such as the exhibition From a German Perspective.

Exhibition view with works by Imi Knöbel

From the Deutsche Bank end, you curated the exhibition together with Dr. Ariane Grigoteit, Global Head of Deutsche Bank Art. What was the collaboration with the curators of the Pushkin Museum like? How is the "German Perspective" different from the "Russian Perspective?"

BF: It was a matter of developing a course the 20th century that led through seven rooms with respective areas of thematic concentration. The Russian curators received catalogues and other material from us, and Dr. Gorjainov was our guest here in Frankfurt to view the collection in person. After that, we received proposals from our Russian colleagues, who from the very beginning placed the most exceptional works from Classic Modernism in the foreground.

Vernissage: Dr. Ariane Grigoteit, Britta Färber and exhibition visitor

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