International News Digest

Thanks to Putin, swearing just got a lot less legal in Russia: According to the Moscow Times’ Ivan Nechepurenko, swear words have now been banned from works of art including films, books, concerts, and plays. “In December 2013, the Institute of Russian Language at the Russian Academy of Sciences compiled a list of four words that constitute swearing and will thus be banned. Two depict male and female reproductive organs, one describes the process of copulation, and the last refers to a promiscuous woman,” wrote Nechepurenko, who added in protest that “swearing has been a vital component of Russian art, with some of the nation’s best poets and playwrights using curse words prolifically, from classical Alexander Pushkin to contemporary post-modernist Vladimir Sorokin.” Now, individuals who violate the ban will be charged up to seventy dollars, while companies or organizations will be penalized up to $1,500.

More details have emerged on the design of Arles’s future center for contemporary art, which is being funded by collector Maja Hoffmann and her family. The project, designed by Frank Gehry, was announced nearly five years ago; now, 20 Minutes reports that the new building will be a nearly 200-foot-tall tower featuring custom-molded glass plates. Along with about 260,000 square feet of exhibition space, it will offer a library, artist residencies, a café, and a restaurant. Construction costs are estimated at over $200 million, and the project is expected to be completed in 2018.

Saudi Arabia will be spending more than $1.7 billion on the construction of 230 museums in order to promote the country’s culture, reports Catherine Milner in the Art Newspaper. Construction has already begun on fourteen of the 230 museums, which will contain a mix of antiquities and contemporary art. “But the history of Arabia does not belong just to us but to the whole world. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, noted that women will play a notable role in operating the new museums. “Women in Saudi Arabia have come a long way—this is not something new,” he said. “They have carried a lot of the history of Saudi Arabia on their shoulders. If you look throughout history, Bedouin women were the backbone of life.”

A long-suppressed Iranian collection of modern art from the West, assembled by Farah Pahlavi (the last wife of the former Shah of Iran), will soon be seeing the light of day, and even may embark on a Western tour, according to information obtained by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Thiemo Heeg. After the 1979 Iranian revolution, the 1,500-piece collection, which includes major pieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Nolde, Munch, Kandinsky, Klee, Miró, and Monet, had been banished to a basement room in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, kept under watch by a single warden since the days of the revolution. Now, in accordance with a new wave of openness spreading across the country, Majid Mollanoruzi (Tehran's former minister of culture who became director of the museum in March) told the FAZ, “We want to open up the realm of art after being inaccessible for thirty-five years.”