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The gift from the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA)

Published 17 January 2022

Set of 21 pictures taken by five American photographers: Bruce Davidson (born 1933), Leon Levinstein (1910–1988), Arthur Leipzig (1918–2014), Aaron Siskind (1903–1991) and Louis Faurer (1916–2001) expanded the Hermitage’s Contemporary Art Collection thanks to the gift of the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA), Mr. Howard Greenberg and Ms. Deborah Bell. All donated works belong to the genre of street photography that is characterized by the aestheticization of everyday life, shots taken within the flow of the urban crowd with an accent on psychological states and the gestures of strangers. The New York school of street photography is widely known around the world, but up until now the works of the practitioners named have been little represented in Russian museum collections.

The original authorial silver gelatin prints will become an important stage in the programme to display and acquire foreign 20th- and 21st-century photography, under which the Hermitage’s collections have already been enriched with works by Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry, Candida Höfer and others. 

Three of the donated photographs have already been displayed at the Hermitage at a one-day exhibition of the most interesting gifts of the outgoing year to the museum on New Year's Eve. At the opening, Prof. Mikhail Piotrovsky stressed the importance of the gift from the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA):

“This is a very important addition to our collection, and besides, it is important that in a situation where there are hardly any ties with America, we are receiving gifts from the United States. I very much hope that perhaps our links and exchanges with the USA will be the first thing to be restored when relations between our countries improve. This is therefore a very significant and symbolic gift.”

The museum would like to thank the Director of the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA) Saranna Biel-Cohen for organizing this project and the US Embassy Moscow for supporting the transport and logistics of this important gift.