An exhibition at Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie of highlights of the Modern art collection of Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art will not open in December as the Berlin museums authority hoped after it learned that the 60 paintings chosen for the high-profile cultural exchange had not been allowed to leave the Iranian capital. A diplomatic coup brokered as Iran opens up to the West now hangs in the balance.
Berlin was to be the first foreign host of the collection assembled under the auspices of the last empress, Farah Pahlavi. It includes works by Picasso, Rothko, Kandinsky, Pollock, Warhol and Bacon acquired before the Iranian Revolution in 1979, as well as Iranian artists. The exhibition was scheduled to run from December to February 2017. The paintings were then due to travel to Rome's MaXXi Museum.
The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which was tasked to organise the exhibition, was confident until this week that the show, for which advanced tickets have been sold, would go ahead despite recent changes in the Iranian Culture Ministry. A spokeswoman for the foundation told the Guardian newspaper that although the paintings were still in Tehran "current signals indicate we'll get them soon".