Big crowds flock to Kiev modern art museum

Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:48pm EDT
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By Sergei Karazy

KIEV (Reuters Life!) - Each day long queues snake onto the pavement and into the night opposite Kiev's main vegetable market in the center of this city of 3 million.

Patiently, young and old Ukrainians wait to see the latest exhibit on display at a free modern art museum funded and set up by steel, media and banking tycoon Viktor Pinchuk.

Pinchuk says the economic crisis will magnify the role of art in his country, which has been battered by a drop of more than 30 percent in industrial production in the first nine months of this year.

"In five to 10 years, people will be speaking about this period like a renaissance for art -- renaissance two," he told Reuters in his PinchukArtCentre.

Installed in a renovated office block overlooking the courtyard of a large entertainment and shopping center, the center is now hosting a exhibition of more than 100 works by Damien Hirst. It is the British artist's biggest show ever.

"This is maybe a moment of truth. I think big artists have a much stronger motivation to speak to the people and to tell just the truth," Pinchuk said at the opening.

He and Hirst found much in common. The British artist, he said, "talks about the same things as Leonardo, Raphael, Rembrandt and Klimt."

Economic crises make modern art "even more important. People need a fresh portion of hope, of love. Art really can give this fresh air... This is an extremely important period for art."   Continued...

<p>People visit the Pinchuk Art Center which is hosting an exhibition by British artist Damien Hirst in Kiev April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin</p>