Friday, 10 August 2007

Arts review Yerevan: Michael De Marsche unveiled as director of Cafesjian Museum of Modern Art in Yerevan

In what has been described by some as “shocking news”, it was announced today that well known and highly successful Michael De Marsche resigned as director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center to become the new director of the Gerald L. Cafesjian Museum Foundation in Yerevan.

*Michael De Marsche (picture by The Gazette)

It’s interesting and very indicative - the way this news presented here:

“In what has got to be described as shocking news, Michael De Marsche resigned as director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center on August 9, just seven days after the new David Owen Tryba-designed wing was unveiled.

Even more shocking is why: He’s becoming the new director of the Gerald L. Cafesjian Museum Foundation in Yerevan, Armenia! I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Yerevan, by the way, is the capital of the country, and the foundation, established by entrepreneur Cafesjian, is currently constructing a huge new cultural facility that will serve as a permanent home for his extensive collection of modern art as well as a venue for traveling exhibitions. "

As a huge fan and admirer of modern art, I am very excited with this news and the fact that very soon, hopefully by the end of year or so, as initially planned, Cafesjian Museum of Modern Art – Yerevan MoMA, will open its doors to public. This will enable Yerevan to rival London’s Tate Modern, New York’s MoMa and others, and establish our capital as a major cultural destination. It will host Cafesjian’s permanent art collection, comprising of works in glass by internationally known artists Stanislav Libenski and Yaroslava Brichtova, paintings by Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, and the distinctive sculptures of Fernando Botero, as well as influential traveling exhibitions. The arts centre will include open air cinema, decorative pool, sculpture park, and public spaces for arts education, seminars and discussions. At last, our capital will be put on the map of major modern art centres in the world and current church-filled image of our country will hopefully get much anticipated other dimensions. Here is a hint to people who are behind tourism industry and promotional travel clips of Armenia – no more churches, please!

For background info, read articles by ArmeniaNow here and here

As part of Cafesjian Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan has already became home to a number of fascinating works by world famous contemporary artists (source of pictures - ArmeniaNow and Cafesjian Museum Foundation):

Fernando Botero "Cat"

Fernando Botero "Roman Warrior"

Barry Flanagan "Hare on Bell"

Barry Flanagan "Acrobats"

Stanislav Libensky / Yaroslava Brichtova "Open Window"

Lynn Chadwick "Sitting Forms"

Lynn Chadwick "Stairway"


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, considering that the building site of the museum is still one big hole, I wouldn't hold my breath on the museum opening by the end of the year. I think it will be at least next spring or summer.

I agree with you that it is very nice that Armenia will get a new, completely different tourist attraction, but on the other hand I have a feeling that the museum is going to be way ahead of Armenia's fairly conservative society. In a way, to me the museum doesn't fit in with the people's mind-set.

I hope that the attached cultural center will increase variety in the cultural agenda, as there is a lot of the same right now. Well, we'll just have to wait and see, I guess.

artmika said...

Myrthe, that’s a good point you are making, I know and agree that this museum “is going to be way ahead of Armenia’s fairly conservative society.” That’s for me shows significant role that this centre may play in breaking stereotypes and exposing people to different, unusual, un-common. At first, many would not understand it, they would not like or would even oppose it since it would not fit with the majority’s mind-set, as you rightly said, but in time, I am sure, this exposure will make people change their perception of art, and through that, at least partly, their perception of ‘normality’.

I am really optimist in this, it may be slow and at times painful process, but it will go ahead eventually. That’s one of the reasons why I like the fact that increasing number of tourists from different countries are coming now to Armenia, which again, even if people did not particularly want, expose them to different cultures, different way of, say, looking, behaving and thinking. Yeah, let’s wait and hope :)

Anonymous said...

I'll wait and hope with you! :-) After all, at first there also was an uproar about the soldier on top of the Cascade near Monument, because of him having his "manliness" visibly sticking out. But now, the statue is still standing there and no one comments on it anymore.

Anonymous said...

It sounds an interesting place! i'd go there. Yes, every time i've looked at tourist stuff on Armenia it's ALWAYS churches, you are right about that!!!

artmika said...

More details came out on De Marsche's appointment and reactions on his resignation as director of Fine Arts Centre in Colorado. Apparently, even his harshest critics were silenced by his success on that post. I recommend reading full report here
Selected excerpts are below:

[...] One of those who professed to be surprised by the turn of events was De Marsche himself, who said he was contacted by philanthropist and art collector Gerard L. Cafesjian four weeks ago.

“I mentioned a very high number and he matched it,” De Marsche said. “It was hard to turn down.”

[...] De Marsche is already looking forward to his next challenge. The ultra-modern building under construction in Yerevan, designed by New York architect David Hotson, will be more than twice the size of the expanded Fine Arts Center.

“I’ve been given complete artistic freedom,” De Marsche said, adding that Cafesjian had told him to “build that museum and make it great.”

De Marsche said he hopes that the expanded Fine Arts Center will become an important regional destination, and that the Cafesjian Museum of Art will be an international destination.

“It will be a monumental achievement, not only for Armenia,” he said. “It will be one of the great museums of Eastern Europe.”

artmika said...

Yerevan diaries: Cascade - Cafesjian Centre for the Arts