A major exhibition of American Impressionist paintings, slated to visit Paris and four eastern European cities, apparently will not make its scheduled stop in Krako'w, Poland, next summer.
According to officials of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), which is cosponsoring the show with the International Communication Agency (ICA), the exhibition had been booked into the National Museum in Krako'w for a month-long stay starting in late August. SITES officials confirmed the cancellation but an ICA spokesman denied it, saying, "We're going to be reviewing these things soon."
The decision to cancel the visit to Poland was not a political one, according to Donald McClelland, the SITES curator who organized the exhibition. In view of uncertain conditions in Poland, he said, "It was just too dangerous. As an institution we are concerned with the safety and handling of these art works, and we just can't put shows into situations where they may be in jeopardy."
The show of 80 paintings by 12 American artists, loaned for a year by some 30 museums and private collections, will open as planned on March 30 at the Petit Palais in Paris. The exhibition is also scheduled to make appearances in East Berlin, Bucharest, Romania, and Sofia, Bulgaria.
Due to the restriction of communications between the two governments, Polish officials have not yet been notified. Nonetheless, lenders to the exhibition have been told by SITES that the paintings will not be going to Poland. Alternative sites to replace Krako'w are being studied, SITES officials said.
The exhibition is the only large cultural exchange program involving Poland that is currently in the works, the ICA spokesman reported, although numerous individual exchanges between the two countries will be subject to review.
Included in the show are paintings by Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast, Theodore Robinson, John Singer Sargent and other American artists whose work was directly affected by the paintings of the French Impressionists. The Paris opening of the show is scheduled to coincide with the meeting there of the European Association of American Scholars.
A film about American Impressionism will be produced in six languages."We're going to send the film to Poland anyway," McClelland said, "or at least I'm going to try to.
"It's really sad, because the museum people in Krako'w were genuinely thrilled" by the idea of the show.