Disputed Show Opens to Raves

Royal Academy nearly canceled From Russia
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2008 12:00 PM CST
Henri Matisse's The Dance, on loan from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg to the Royal Academy in London.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – London's Royal Academy opened its blockbuster exhibition of Russian-owned paintings last night, after narrowly escaping cancellation by the Russians last month. Critics agree that the stunner of From Russia is Matisse's 1910 The Dance, which rarely leaves the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. "It blasts any picture near it off the wall," says the Telegraph's critic.

Richard Dorment also praises the "magical" work of Malevich and Kandisky that closes the show, although he is less effusive about the "nosedive" of some of the later Russian figurative painting on display. Guardian critic Adrian Searle also concedes that the quality of the works is "variable," but he sees this as a virtue: "Who wants one damn masterpiece after another?"