Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr Krens,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great honour for me to be present today at the opening of this unique exhibition of Russian art.
We have always considered the Guggenheim Museum one of the foremost centres of world culture. Today, I have been absolutely convinced of this. Not only do they know Russian art very well, but they hold it in high estime. We, on our side, value this respect for our country and our culture.
Two years ago, we were present at the opening of a different exhibition called “Amazons of the Russian Avant-Garde.” Certainly, events on such a scale would be impossible without the participation of the Kremlin's Armoury Museum, the State Hermitage, and Russian and Historical museums. Regional galleries and owners of private collections made essential contributions to this cooperative effort as well.
Business representatives have also made important contributions.
Such a union has proven fruitful and resulted in an original retrospective of Russian fine arts in the Guggenheim Museum. It seems to me that a project of this scale is the first of its kind. The life of Russian art over nine centuries is presented here.
I would especially like to emphasise that the exhibition's name reflects its contents and its point. Of course, we feel this in the masterpieces of Russian icon painters such as Andrei Rublev, and Dionisy, which are seldom exhibited abroad… I am confident that you will all feel the soul of the Russian people.
Realist painters, members of the Russian avant-garde, and modern artists are exhibited here. What is interesting, and what struck me, is that this exhibit highlights the transition between the different stages of Russian art rather than simply presenting unconnected pieces from a given period.
Of course, even a huge exhibit such as this cannot show all the wealth of Russian art. But what you see here will be enough to understand the importance of Russian culture for world civilisation. What you see here will be enough to evaluate Russia's contribution to humankind's artistic heritage and to modern civilisation.
Opening ceremonies such as this one are becoming a pleasant tradition in Russian-American relations. Certainly, they give our citizens the opportunity to better know and understand each other.
I am very grateful to you, Mr Krens, grateful to all the exhibition's organisers, to those who first had this idea, and to those who helped carry it out. Namely because such events are the best and most eloquent way to understand a country that possesses huge humanistic and spiritual potential, a country such as Russia.