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Met renames Degas painting to 'Dancers in Ukrainian Dress'

Met renames Degas painting to 'Dancers in Ukrainian Dress'

Posted March. 21, 2023 07:47,   

Updated March. 21, 2023 07:47


Several media outlets, including The Guardian, have reported Sunday that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has renamed one of Edgar Degas’ (1834-1917) 1899 pastels from “Russian Dancers” to “Dancers in Ukrainian Dress.” The decision was made in light of recent discussions surrounding the national identity of and the garment worn by the dancers in the painting, which may have originated from Ukraine from the current perspective while they belonged to Imperial Russia at the time of creation.

Max Hollein, the Met’s director, said in a statement, “Because of the increased awareness of and attention to Ukrainian culture and history since the Russian invasion started in 2022” as a background for the renaming. The Met also revised the nationality of Illia Repin, an artist born in Ukraine, from Russia to Ukraine. The National Gallery in London as well renamed another Degas pastels to “Ukrainian Dancers” from “Russian Dancers” last year.

The New York Times reported that these adjustments reflect a movement that is currently underway at museums all over the world, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to better reflect the line of Ukrainian artists. According to CNN, at least 70 out of 900 artists previously identified as Russian are analyzed to be actually from Ukraine.

This trend is not limited to museums. A local media outlet reported that the Liverpool City Council paid homage to Ukraine, the winner of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, by repainting half of the iconic "Superlambanana" sculpture blue. This was done in preparation for Liverpool hosting the 2023 event in May of this year.

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com