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Airport Surcharges Threaten Van Gogh, Picasso and Warhol Exhibitions in Brazil

08/09/2018 - 12h44

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ISABELLA MENON
PEDRO DINIZ
SÃO PAULO
AMSTERDÃ

Axel Rüger's face flushed in silence between bites of salmon during dinner in Amsterdam, when he heard the words "exposition" and "Brazil" from the reporter. As the director of the Van Gogh Museum and one of the most influent people in the art world, Rüger doesn't seem to believe that the impressionist's exhibition in Brazil, planned to 2023, is really going to happen.

Kevin David/A7 Press/Folhapress
MASP - Museo de Arte de São Paulo
MASP - The São Paulo Museum of Art

Even with the good will shown from both sides to stage the biggest exposition of Van Gogh works in Brazil, everybody's hands seem tied at the moment.

Brazilian airport operators are saying that artworks have no cultural value for the country, and as such, they would need to surcharge their storage. This new interpretation is threatening the Van Gogh exposition, as well as other planned art events featuring Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Guarulhos in São Paulo, Viracopos in Campinas and Galeão in Rio de Janeiro are now charging a fee of 0.75% of each painting's worth to store it. Previously, the amount was R$ 0.15 (US$ 0.04) by kilo of each stored artwork. This change happened after a the government raised the prices for storage, in 2017.

Suddenly, airport operators understood that artworks don't fit the description for the discounted fees offered to scientific, philanthropic, sport and cultural events, as it happened before. Art exhibitions started to be classified into the full price structure.

This new fee structure will make Brazil come back to the margins of the art circuit, according to directors of museums and cultural centers in the country.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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