Yesterday, Russian police stormed into the Muzei Vlasti (the "Museum of Power"), a gallery in St. Petersburg, and yanked a group of offensive paintings off the walls. One of these was a brilliant political satire—a painting that depicts Russian President Vladimir Putin in a slip brushing the hair of a lingerie-clad Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called Travesty by Konstantin Altunin. Where's your sense of humor, Vladdy?
According to Reuters, the paintings were seized because they break unspecified Russian laws. St. Petersburg Deputy Vitaly Mironov, who was also featured in another confiscated painting, one with his portrait in front of a rainbow flag, said they were "of a distinctly pornographic character." For a country that has banned "gay propaganda" and has made life a living hell for gays in Russia, it is no surprise that they have a problem with these paintings.
Along with the seizure, the Muzei Vlasti has been closed. Gallery owner Alexander Donskoy told Reuters, "This is an (illegal) seizure. We have been given no formal documents banning us from operating and no receipt confirming our petty cash was seized."
Altunin, the artist behind Putin's least favorite painting, may have been inspired by the calendar a group of female students made for the Russian president in 2010. The young women posed in sexy lingerie for a 12-page spread for Putin's 85th called Happy Birthday Mr. Putin. Was is not the President's turn to get the calendar girl treatment?
Putin isn't the only high-profile politician with an arts news headline this week. George Bush's (mediocre) paintings of cats were unveiled yesterday.