CULTURE — 190 works confiscated… An exhibition of the Russian avant-garde painter Alexandra Exter closed prematurely in Tours following a complaint was filed for ‘fakes’, ‘counterfeited signatures’ and ‘fraud’, according to a judicial source cited by the AFP (Agence France Presse). 190 works were confiscated and sealed.
Tours State Prosecutor Philippe Varin indicated that the complaint was lodged by art historian Andrei Nakov, a leading expert on Exter’s work (died in 1949) and holder of ‘moral rights’ over her work. According to this expert on the Russian avant-garde, founder and president of the Alexandra Exter Association, more than 90% of the paintings exhibited at the Château de Tours are fakes. Another expert, solicited by Nakov, noted a very significant difference between the signatures and the artist’s original signature. A judicial inquiry was opened under the co-jurisdiction of two examining magistrates.
The exhibition ‘Alexandra Exter and her Russian painter friends’, organized by the city of Tours, opened on 30 January. Tours mayor Jean Germain touted it as the major cultural event of the year. It was closed on 19 March, three days before its scheduled end. Exhibition organizer, Jean Chauvelin, also an expert in the Russian avant-garde, was unable to provide certificates of authenticity for the works.
The Tours municipality, which has appointed a lawyer, said, ‘the city is a victim in this affair and reserves the right to take appropriate legal action’.
Alexandra Exter (1882-1949), whose work spans a variety of genres (painting, posters, theatrical sets, film sets, theater costumes, book illustrations) managed to bridge two major avant-garde movements : Suprematism and Constructivism.