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Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 Art Show Revealed



Get a first look at original prints celebrating The Mandalorian, Andor, and more, and hear from the artists themselves.

For art and print collectors who love the galaxy far, far away, the Art Show has always been a highlight of Star Wars Celebration. The Art Show brings together artists of myriad disciplines and styles to celebrate Star Wars with original works created just for Lucasfilm’s official event; it’s become a tradition, and is excited to reveal the full lineup of prints coming to Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023, with selections honoring The Mandalorian, the sequel trilogy, Star Wars animation, and much more. From Al Abbazia’s heartwarming personal expression to Shyla Lee’s winking Grogu tribute, this year’s Art Show is, once again, a wide-ranging display of talent and affection for the saga. Check out all of the amazing art below, along with exclusive commentary from the artists themselves.

“Protectors,” Al Abbazia

“I first saw Star Wars in 1977 when I was seven years old. At that time there were no toy lightsabers, so I crafted one out of a wrapping paper tube. I tried to recapture that sense of childhood wonder when I created this image.

“Just as the little boy is guardian and caregiver to his puppy, the Mandalorian has the same relationship to Grogu. In turn, both lovingly protect their caregivers, hence the title ‘Protectors.’ Just like my 2022 Celebration Art Show entry ‘Reflective Power,’ I wanted to convey a sense of childhood wonder that resides in all of us, no matter our age.”


“The Dark Times,” Jonathan Beistline

“When we first meet the Inquisitors in Obi-Wan Kenobi, they stroll off the shuttle and cast this wave of fear around them. I wanted to design a piece to evoke a similar moment that showcases all of the Inquisitors in formation with Darth Vader at the forefront. It is a fearsome group that the Emperor unleashed upon the galaxy to hunt the remaining Jedi.

“To enhance the terror of the Inquisitors, I surrounded them with the troopers, droids, and ships that we’ve seen with them at various points in the saga. The final artwork is a digital color finish of a black ink drawing done with brush on cold press watercolor paper. The colors were kept muted and subdued to allow for the accented red glows of sabers.”

“My Only Hope,” Tricia Benson

“I was really moved by the backstory given for Leia and Ben Kenobi in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi. The filling in of some their shared experiences, in my mind, made adult Leia’s reaching out for help to Obi-Wan through R2-D2 in A New Hope all the more poignant. This piece portrays two moments where Leia, and the Rebellion, needed the help of a trusted ally and friend. He did not let them down.”

“We Are All Connected,” Jodie Rae Charity

“Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger are one of my favorite master and apprentice stories from Star Wars. Very early in the Star Wars Rebels series, Ezra learns from Kanan about the connection to all living things. As the young Padawan trains to become a full-fledged Jedi, he develops a special talent for connecting to animals through the Force. In my painting, I’ve tried to illustrate Ezra’s connection to the Force, his master, and to the world around him.”

“A World Between Worlds,” Cryssy Cheung

“For this piece I was inspired to draw Ahsoka — a character that I’ve always been drawn to for her selflessness, loyalty, and kind-hearted nature. After seeing her portrayed by the incredible Rosario Dawson, I knew immediately that I wanted to draw the live-action rendering.

“For her pose, I wanted to depict a stance that is iconic to her character. For the background, I was deeply influenced by the art direction in the final season of Star Wars Rebels, where Ahsoka and Ezra Bridger are in the World Between Worlds. I felt this part of the series was very important to the story and to each of their character arcs, and it felt fitting to put her in that space!”

“We Have a Visitor,” Jason W. Christman

“For Celebration this year I focused on a more obscure iconic droid from The Empire Strikes Back, the Imperial probe droid. With its sleek and menacing appearance, alongside its deep rhythmic sounds, this droid dominated the opening scenes of the movie, making it a very recognizable character in the Star Wars universe. It left a deep impression in me as a kid that I still feel today. When the rebels intercept the droid’s transmission, I love the quote from rebel General Carlist Rieekan, “We have a visitor,” so much I used it for the title of the piece.

“In my usual minimalist approach, I tried convey the evil in the droid by having it dominate a good size of the print. Using blue hues and crystalized flares of light in the air gives the print a cold presence that is sure to become a focal point to any wall it hangs on.”

“Guardians of the New Republic,” Jason Davies

My piece was inspired by the nostalgic sense of Star Wars adventure and the exciting possibilities for further adventures in the new Republic Era! I wanted to capture the prospect of Ashoka, Luke, Mando (and Grogu!) together, facing off against the many dangers of the Empire, other threats, and all the possibilities of the Star Wars universe. I’m showing that each character is following their own path, but uniting when needed to face a common enemy.”

“Unbreakable Bond,” Chris Dee

“The unbreakable bond between Ahsoka and Rex. We have witnessed it being forged over the course of several years, and grow into one of Star Wars‘ most powerful friendships.

“For several years, I have attempted to capture this in an art piece. I am pleased to finally be able to share with you the result of many hours of prototyping, crumbled sketches, and artistic exploration.”

“Fate of the Galaxy,” Haitem Gasmi

“‘Fate of the Galaxy’ recreates a scene from Return of the Jedi with Hasbro Star Wars: The Black Series action figures and dioramas. The lights, colors, posing, composition, angle — everything is really important to create the illusion of a realistic picture. The first special effects of Star Wars were based on the same concept with miniature models, so for me it’s a kind of tribute to this awesome saga.”

“Every Day We Wait, They Get Stronger,” Sam Gilbey

“I fell in love with the gritty and detailed world of Andor from the very first episode, but my feelings grew even deeper as the incredible season progressed. It’s intense and moving, and I just knew that I wanted to pay homage to the show, and many of its fascinating characters.”

“Tales of the Jedi,” Joe Hogan

“I knew as soon as Lucasfilm announced the new Tales of the Jedi series that I was going to love it. I even set my alarm for 3 a.m. the morning it debuted so that I could binge it as soon as it released, and then immediately got to work trying to capture all of my favorite moments from the series in this print! As usual, the Clone Wars art style and wonderful visual storytelling of the show inspired me so much that I spent almost 36 straight hours to create this illustration as soon as the end credits rolled.

“One of the things I love about the Tales of the Jedi series is just how different but similar Count Dooku’s and Ahsoka’s stories are. They were both two Jedi trying to find their roles in a big galaxy, while remaining true to their core beliefs, but diverging paths significantly. I tried to represent that with a limited palette of only eight colors. Using the same blues and oranges, I wanted to show how the same colors could be used to represent very different characters, feelings, and destinies.”

“Twilight on Endor,” Sandra Kamenz

“It is a traditional watercolor painting with a few digital touches. The inspiration for this Ewok village came from my beloved brother, who is a huge Star Wars fan and passionate collector of Star Wars action figures. Since his primary focus is on the Ewoks, these little creatures have held a special place in my heart since childhood.

“I am amazed by all the different planets and space stations that Star Wars has to offer. And between all these futuristic places, I especially like the raw nature that Endor has to offer. I love the cozy and familiar atmosphere we saw after the battle in Return of the Jedi, and I wanted to capture that mood in an artwork — the Ewok village just before night covers the forest moon.”

“We’ll Handle This,” Brandon Kenney

“I wanted to reimagine one of the most iconic scenes from Episode I from a different perspective. I still remember the feeling of excitement as a teenager as I watched that moment unfold for the first time in theaters, ‘Duel of the Fates’ building as the suspense of a final showdown looms between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul. It was my goal to try and capture a little bit of what made that so special to me.”

“Art Gu-Gro,” Shyla Lee

“When I had the opportunity to apply for my first Celebration Art Show, I knew only one thing. It had to be Grogu.

“After pondering on how to proceed from there, I decided to focus on his love for snackies, done in an Art Nouveau style, which I tend to draw a lot of inspiration from. Had to throw on some shiny accents as a finishing touch, as any collectors familiar with my Star Wars sketch cards would know, I love my foils and all things shiny!

“I’m so excited and honored to have this be selected, and hope people find it cute enough to warrant a space on their wall next to other incredible past, present, and future Celebrations pieces!”

“Gioconda Amidala,” Erik Maell

“This piece completes an ambitious triptych which I began at Celebration Orlando in 2012, when I debuted my artwork of Queen Padmé Amidala in her full royal regalia from Episode I. For Celebration Anaheim in 2015, I followed up with an Episode II version of a similarly posed Padmé (now a Senator in the Galactic Republic) wearing her Naboo picnic dress. The circle is now complete, with the new Episode III version revealing Padmé in a very private moment at her home on Coruscant, and it is the most unguarded and intimate portrait yet of this strong and courageous leader.

“All three of these illustrations have portrayed Padmé in poses reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s classic Renaissance portrait, Mona Lisa, or, as it is known in Italian, La Gioconda (“the smiling woman”). For centuries, civilizations have pondered the mystery behind the cryptic smile of Mona Lisa. Likewise, Padmé’s subtle and enigmatic facial expression belies the hidden secrets of her forbidden marriage to Jedi Anakin Skywalker and the pregnancy that would ultimately lead to the birth of Luke and Leia, and provide new hope for the entire galaxy.”

“Hope,” Ashraf Omar

Return of the Jedi is one of my favorites from the original trilogy. Luke Skywalker building his lightsaber is a cool scene that we don’t see in the film, except for that deleted scene. This work takes inspiration from it, with the act of constructing the weapon symbolizing the hope it will bring to the galaxy.”

“The Scavenger,” Frank Sansone

‘The Scavenger’ is an ode to Rey’s humble beginnings as a lone straggler, salvaging for parts, hoping to make it to her next meal. It is my hope the piece conveys Rey’s longing for her family and the importance of her role in the galaxy far, far away.”

“From the Ashes of Mandalore,” Adam Schickling

“This piece captures the strength and determination of Bo-Katan Kryze, the Mandalorian whose mission is to reclaim the Darksaber with her small band of Nite Owls and become the ruler of Mandalore. My vision for this artwork was to show the resilience of Bo-Katan after the devastation of her planet by the Empire and her rise from the ashes of Mandalore to reclaim her throne.”

“Academy BFF’s,” Nick Scurfield

“As a lifelong fan of Star Wars, I know that many of us now have families of our own and are keen to pass on our love of these stories to the next generation, so I love to create artwork that would feel appropriate to hang in the bedroom of young children or in a family room, introducing them to characters and scenarios that celebrate the magic of Star Wars.

“While as it stands there’s no indication that these two characters met before they were introduced in The Mandalorian, it’s plausible that they spent time together as younglings at the Jedi Academy. It was fun imagining the mischief they could have got up to together.

“In my work, I begin with pencil sketches, scan these, and then work up flat colors before applying color grading, light, and shadows. I love the benefits of digital work but often add soft grain and use brushes that emulate traditional methods of illustration such as paint, chalk, and pastels to bring some texture and character to the piece.”

“Beyond a Jedi,” Lin Zy

“‘Beyond a Jedi’ is me getting to explore one of my favorite characters in the Star Wars universe! I was so inspired by Ahsoka’s return in the Star Wars Rebels series that I wanted to do a piece that would showcase her ethereal spirit and her evolution towards becoming something more than a Jedi. Rebels is one of my all time favorite shows. So with the show’s stylization in mind, I moved forward by utilizing a more subdued color palette with blues, purples, and whites, but of course wanting the main focus being on my girl Ahsoka. I really wanted her to pop and be the main visual opposition in the piece. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it!”

“Things That Were,” Zoltan Simon

“My poster conveys what has been lost: the Jedi are gone, the Republic is gone, Padmé is gone. But even if it is nighttime in Naboo and also the age of darkness for the galaxy, the soothing blue colors and the glowing moonlight promise that there is still hope.

“Ahsoka mourns the things that were as we have seen in Tales of the Jedi. She just heads to the starfighter now. But eventually, her way leads to bringing light back to the galaxy.

“Printed using special 11-color pigment ink to ensure the rich expression of the subtle hues of the moonlit night scenery.”

“Extraction Team Bravo,” Malcolm Tween

“I love to try and show some of the scenes we don’t necessarily get to see in the films. Bravo Team, with Sergeant Melshi and K-2S0, have landed on Wobani and are about to set out to rescue the high-value rebel target Jyn Erso. We only get a brief glimpse of Wobani in Rogue One, but I wanted to explore a little more of its desolate and hostile environment.”

Pre-orders will go live at on March 10 at 12 p.m. PT and run through March 20 at 12 p.m. PT; all prints will be limited to 250 pieces, with 200 available for pre-order and pick up at the Art Show, and 50 reserved for sale at Celebration. All pre-orders are pick up only (no pre-orders will be shipped).


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JR’s Gigantic New Installation in Hong Kong, Unveiled Ahead of Art Basel, Has Worried the City’s Feng Shui Masters. Here’s Why – artnet News



The French artist JR has created a monumental outdoor installation for Hong Kong to celebrate the city’s art month this month. But the installation, which depicts a high jumper, has drawn criticisms from several feng shui consultants and fortune tellers, who argued that the work looks like a person who fell off from a building from afar, and hence projecting a bad omen. Titled Giants: Rising Up, the installation was unveiled this week ahead of next week’s Art Basel Hong Kong, which has its VIP days beginning March 21. Commissioned by the shopping mall Harbour City and on view until April 23 at the Ocean Terminal Deck in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, the work, which measures nearly 40-feet-tall and 40-feet-wide (12 meters high and 12 meters wide), is the famed artist’s first offering in Asia from his ongoing “Giants” series. “The gigantic art installation depicts a larger-than-life high jumper floating in mid-air adjacent to Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour, with her body bending gracefully and her head back facing the fabulous skyline,” the press release wrote. “The high-jumping athlete appears to jump off the ground and enjoys the sensation of free fall,” the press statement continued, adding that the athlete’s move represented “take off,” referencing to a “Giants” installation on view at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. JR also added “a touch of Hong Kong” by fusing the image with a bamboo scaffolding, a construction technique regarded as “safer than steel” that has been listed as the city’s intangible cultural heritage.

<img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-2271534" loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-2271534" src="×767.jpg" alt="JR, GIANTS: Rising Up. Courtesy of Harbour City. ” width=”1024″ height=”767″ srcset=”×767.jpg 1024w,×225.jpg 300w,×1151.jpg 1536w,×1534.jpg 2048w,×37.jpg 50w,×1438.jpg 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”>

JR, GIANTS: Rising Up. Courtesy of Harbour City.


But JR’s artistic creation failed to appeal to some feng shui consultants, as well as practitioners and believers in the traditional art of Chinese metaphysics and divination. “Doesn’t it look like someone who fell off from a building landing on a bamboo scaffolding, and the body is pierced through by the bamboos?” asked feng shui master Po Sin in a recent video on his YouTube channel. Po Sin’s view was echoed by a recent Facebook post penned by feng shui practitioner Steve Lee, who also shared a similar impression of the work. Their views were also echod by some internet users. Feng shui is understood as the ancient Chinese study of arranging one’s surroundings in order to facilitate the positive flow of energy or bring fortune, and is widely adopted in interior design and architecture in Hong Kong. Some non-believers, however, criticized it as mere superstition. Po Sin, nevertheless, went on saying that although bamboo scaffolding was distinctively from Hong Kong, and it could be aesthetically pleasing, the depiction in this JR work was not appealing. “You can have people climbing on a bamboo scaffolding, but not having someone landing on it on a person’s back,” the master said, adding that the out-of-context jump looked like the jumper was diving into the sea, which has a bad connotation in the local cultural and lingual context. Artnet News has reached out to Harbour City for comment, but did not hear back by publishing time.

"KAWS: HOLIDAY" featuring Companion by US artist Brian Donnelly aka KAWS at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence//AFP/Getty Images.

KAWS’s Companion at Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence//AFP/Getty Images.

Lee, the feng shui practitioner, also compared the bad omen projected by JR’s new work with that of American artist Kaws’s Kaws:Holiday public installation in Hong Kong that was on view in March 2019. The installation saw the gigantic, crossed-eye inflatable sculpture of Companion lying flat on its back floating on Victoria Harbour, which Lee interpreted as the “fortune basin” of Hong Kong. “Call me superstitious, but placing a ‘floating dead body’ in the middle of Victoria Harbour, the sight is unbearable,” Lee wrote in a post in March 2019. Lee then followed up with another post in October 2019, when the city was rocked by pro-democracy protests that had tipped off in June, sparked by the anti-extradition law movement. “The artwork ‘dead body in Victoria Harbour’ was merely a prophecy,” he wrote, predicting that the city will continue to suffer in subsequent years, affecting all local citizens regardless of age and political orientation. Whether or not Kaws’s installation could be read as an omen, in reality, the city was nearly cut off from the rest of the world for almost three years under stringent Covid restrictions. The authorities continue to crackdown political dissents since the implementation of national security law in 2020 and the revival of the use of colonial-era sedition law, which saw hundreds of activists, pro-democracy politicians, and journalists arrested. The city’s stock market index, Hang Seng Index, plunged from its high note at over 30,000 in May 2019 to 14,863 in October 2022, its lowest since 2009. Is JR’s new artwork really a bad omen? Benson Wong, a former Hong Kong Baptist University political science professor-turned astrologer and psychic, noted that in this case, the meaning of the work is defined by viewers. If the work is associated with negative meanings, the work is seen as “a projection or manifestation of such negativity and unlucky energies,” Wong told Artnet News. “It is a reflection of collective consciousness.”

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‘A real beauty’: Gottfried Lindauer painting set to break auction record



The portrait of Harawira Te Mahikai, chief of the Ngāti Kahungunu Tribe, is the finest to come to market according to an art expert.

International Art Centre/Supplied

The portrait of Harawira Te Mahikai, chief of the Ngāti Kahungunu Tribe, is the finest to come to market according to an art expert.

A rare Gottfried Lindauer​ painting is set to break records when it goes to market on March 29, with one art expert deeming it “the finest to ever come to market”.

Lindauer was a man who, along with C F Goldie, excelled in painting important Māori subjects throughout his life, as well as depictions of Māori life during this time period.


He also produced many pieces of little-known or ordinary Māori people, most of them wearing European dress, as would have been the case in their daily life.

Richard Thomson, the director of the International Art Centre, said the Lindauer up for auction was a “real beauty”.

The painting is a portrait of Harawira Te Mahikai, chief of the Ngāti Kahungunu Tribe, and a signatory of the Treaty of Waitangi.


At the time of his death in 1886, Te Mahikai was the last tattooed chief of Waimarama.

“It has all the hallmarks of a Lindauer, you don’t see them that often in this kind of quality,” Thomon said.


Piers Fuller/

A Gottfried Lindauer portrait of Huru Te Hiaro was repaired and moved from Te Papa to Aratoi Museum in Masterton for a Lindauer exhibition (first published June 2017).


The piece was painted in 1883, and Thomson thinks Lindauer perhaps painted it when his son Hector was born and saved to gift to him when he turned 21.

“This one is a real masterpiece, and I think it’s one of the best to come to market ever,” Thomson said.

“It’s in pristine condition, and it was owned by Lindauer himself until he gifted it to his son Hector in 1908.”

The piece was held by descendants of the Lindauers until 1988, when it was bought by a private collector who it has been with ever since.

Lindauer pieces have had a high profile as of late due to the brazen heist of two of the pieces from the International Art Centre in April 2017.

The paintings, which were of Māori elders Chief Ngātai-Raure and Chieftainess Ngātai-Raure, were finally recovered and returned to their rightful owner in December 2022, over five years after they were stolen.

The stolen paintings were recovered in December 2022.

The stolen paintings were recovered in December 2022.

Although the Lindauer up for auction is not one of the stolen paintings, it is the first one to come up for sale since the paintings were recovered.

Thomson said despite “the heightened awareness”, the story of the stolen Lindauers won’t “add fuel to the value of it”.

“It’s probably going to be a record price, and I would be surprised if it wasn’t – it’s almost a certainty,” Thomson said.

The director believes the piece could hit the million dollar mark, and wouldn’t drop below $500,000.

The auction is taking place at the International Art Centre on March 29, and you can register your interest here.



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Museums Rename Artworks and Artists as Ukrainian, Not Russian



A year into the war, institutions face pressure to note the Ukrainian roots of artworks and artists long described as Russian. It’s not always simple to write a wall label.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York changed the name of one of its Edgar Degas pastels Friday morning from “Russian Dancers” to “Dancers in Ukrainian Dress,” the second Degas it has reclassified since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The National Gallery in London renamed one of its Degas pastels “Ukrainian Dancers” from “Russian Dancers” last year. And the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles updated an old item on its website to note that Degas’s dancers were Ukrainian, not Russian.

The adjustments reflect a movement that is currently underway at museums all over the world, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many are re-examining — and, in a growing number of cases, relabeling — artworks and artists from the former Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union to better reflect their Ukrainian origins.


“Scholarly thinking is evolving quickly,” 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.”

But the process is not always straightforward, particularly when museums try to reflect the nationality of artists, and not just where they were born. The Met recently revised how it classifies three 19th-century painters previously described as Russian — Illia Repin, Arkhyp Kuindzhi and Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky — to draw attention to their Ukrainian roots.

It updated two of the names with their Ukrainian transliteration, followed by the Russian name: Illia Repin (Ilia Efimovich Repin) and Arkhyp Kuindzhi (Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi).

But after the Met changed the description of Aivazovsky from “Russian” to “Ukrainian” on its website, some critics pounced, pointing out that he was in fact Armenian. (“The Met Shouldn’t Have Reclassified Ivan Aivazovsky as ‘Ukrainian,’” an essay in Hyperallergic argued.) So the Met re-reclassified him: Aivazovsky is now described as “Armenian, born Russian Empire [now Ukraine].”

Activists and art historians have been pressuring museums to rethink how they label art and artists, arguing that given Ukraine’s history of subjugation under the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, its culture should not be conflated with that of its rulers. Museums in the United States and Europe are complicit in its colonization, the critics argue, if they don’t honor the artistic contributions of Ukrainians.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has changed the way it labels works by Degas, Illia Repin and Arkhyp Kuindzhi. Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

“It’s like stealing heritage,” said Oksana Semenik, an art historian in Kyiv who has been pressing for change. “How you can find your identity? How you can find your culture?”

The failure to distinguish Ukrainian artists and artworks has been particularly painful, activists say, at a time when so much of Ukraine’s cultural heritage has been damaged or destroyed in the current conflict, including museums, monuments, universities, libraries, churches and mosaics.

Many museums are reconsidering the identification of holdings that have long been lumped in the general category of Russian art. Among the museums that Semenik has sought to change have been the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum and the Jewish Museum.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York described artists as “born in present-day Ukraine” in its recent exhibition “In Solidarity.”

“Nationality descriptions can be very complex, especially when making posthumous attributions,” Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the museum, said in a statement to The Times. “We do rigorous research and approach the descriptions with sensitivity to the recorded nationality of the artist at death and birth, emigration and immigration dynamics, and changing geopolitical boundaries.”

The Met has been considering such updates since last summer in consultation with its curators and outside scholars. “The changes align with The Met’s efforts to continually research and examine objects in its collection,” the museum said in a statement, “to determine the most appropriate and accurate way to catalog and present them.”

The subject of what the Met now calls “Dancer in Ukrainian Dress” was initially identified as “women in Russian costumes” in a journal entry in 1899, the museum explains on its website. “However, several scholars demonstrated that the costumes are, in fact, traditional Ukrainian folk dress, although it has not been established if the dancers were themselves from Ukraine.”

The Met has revised its wall text for artworks such as Kuindzhi’s painting, “Red Sunset” (circa 1905-08), which was put on display last spring following a statement of support for Ukraine from Max Hollein, the Met’s director, and Daniel H. Weiss, the president and chief executive.

Arkhyp Kuindzhi (Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi), “Red Sunset,” 1905–8. The new label reflects the complexity of the artist’s roots. His Ukrainian name now appears first, followed by his Russian name.Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

The Met’s European Paintings department currently describes Kuindzhi as “Ukrainian, born Russian Empire,” the website explains, “to reflect the dual, intersecting nationalities identified in scholarship on the artist.

“He was descended from Greeks who moved to Mariupol from the southern coast of Crimea in the 18th century,” it continues. “Greeks from Crimea are classed among the Pontic Greeks, who originated in what is now northeastern Turkey and migrated widely through the surrounding region.”

While “Red Sunset” is safe in the Met’s collection, the Kuindzhi Museum in Mariupol, devoted to the artist’s life and work, was badly damaged by Russian airstrikes.

Asked whether it was revising the identification of works in the Jewish Museum’s collection, Claudia Gould, the director, said that her institution tried to take a nuanced approach to classification. “For artists born in the Russian Empire or former Soviet Union, as well as many other regions with ever-changing borders, we use the historical regions at the time the work was made and/or their present-day equivalent,” she said in an email.

Semenik, the art historian from Kyiv, has been pressing her case with museums.

Oksana Semenik, an art historian from Kyiv, Ukraine, has been pressing museums to change how they label art. “It’s like stealing heritage,” she said. “How you can find your identity? How you can find your culture?”Alyona Lobanova

“Ukraine is not the former Russian Empire,” Semenik wrote in a January letter to the Brooklyn Museum. “It was colonized by Russia centuries ago.”

Anne Pasternak, director of the Brooklyn Museum, said that since last summer, the European Art department has been revising the way it presents biographical information relating to nationality for objects in its collection, “precisely in response to the urgent and complex legacies of empire, colonization, and displacement that the war on Ukraine has thrown into relief.”

The museum has been expanding its wall labels so that they describe an artist’s place of birth and death, noting any change in national borders. For instance, the artist Repin’s biographical line now reads: “Chuhuiv, Ukraine (former Russian Empire), 1844 — 1930, Repino, Saint Petersburg (former Kuokkala, Finland).”

Though it may be a challenge to satisfy everybody, “we believe that this approach better highlights the histories of war, colonization, and independence,” Pasternak said, “that may be obscured when classifying by nationality.”


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