Martin Roth, who loved Azerbaijan
The world of art has lost one of the most outstanding and popular figures of our time. Martin Roth acknowledged as the most famous and successful manager of the European museum world died last Sunday in Berlin. Due to his work, the Dresden State Art Collections and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, headed by him at different times, were full of visitors.
Those who knew Roth say that he possessed uncommon intuition, human responsiveness, true intelligence and high scientific authority. Immediately after the reunification of Germany, he became the Curator at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, ten years later he became Director General of the Dresden State Art Collections. Ten years later he became a Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which soon after received the title of the best museum of the year in Great Britain. This was a precedent for the museum world - for the first time in history a British museum was headed by a non-English. The criterion of choice then became Roth's professionalism, not his nationality.
Roth's activities were aimed at strengthening international cooperation and building a dialogue of cultures. The largest galleries in Europe, which he headed, actively interacted with the Russian exhibition grounds.
In April 2015, while still the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Martin Roth went to Baku. He wanted to get acquainted with the art of this country and get information about its national values. After visiting National Art Museum of Azerbaijan, Roth offered cooperation in the field of restoration, attribution and exhibitions.
Last September, Martin Roth quit the post of the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, but his mind kept going back to Azerbaijan. In May 2017, within the framework of the 57th Venice Biennale - one of the most prestigious events in the field of contemporary art - Roth was the curator of the exhibition with an eloquent title ‘Under One sun. The Art of Living Together’, trying to bring to the world multicultural traditions, ethno-cultural diversity and tolerance of Azerbaijan. For more details see Culture clash in Azerbaijan Pavilion in Venice.
The Axeri Pavilion in Venice will be opened until November 26, so the fruits of the joint work of Martin Roth and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation can still be seen in one of the most crowded places in Venice - the 14th century Palazzo Lezze in Campo Santo Stefano. The concept of the exhibition reflects the cultural diversity of Azerbaijan through the artistic interpretation. Roth always tried to expand linguistic, political and cultural boundaries, including by introducing modern digital technologies in the process of interaction with visitors. Therefore, at the exhibition ‘Under One sun. The Art of Living Together’ such interactive media projects as video mapping and installation of the visual performance group HYPNOTICA, and the works of young artist Elvin Nabizade are demonstrated. The authors represent the art that arose in Azerbaijan from the synthesis of traditional analog and modern digital art. The artists working with various materials call upon humanity to think about the culture of coexistence.
Martin Roth was deeply committed to the idea of intercultural dialogue, and his death became a common misfortune for the entire museum community world.