MOSCOW — American industrialist Armand Hammer opened his collection of masterpieces today at Moscow's State Art Gallery and used the occasion to urge U.S. and Soviet leaders to "come together."
Hammer, the 87-year-old chairman of Occidental Petroleum Co., told a small gathering of dignitaries, Soviets and reporters that the present is a "critical moment in U.S.-Soviet relations."
Hammer told the Soviets: "I believe the situation (at the disabled Chernobyl nuclear facility) is under control and that your leaders can cope with what is going on. This is a time when our nation's leaders must come together."
Hammer then opened the exhibit, accompanied by Anatoly Dobrynin, a key Gorbachev adviser and former ambassador to Washington, and Dr. Robert Gale, the American bone marrow surgeon in Moscow to treat victims of the April 26 nuclear accident at Chernobyl.
The collection includes paintings as diverse as Rembrandt's "Juno" from the 17th Century and Frederic Remington's "Cowpuncher's Lullaby" from the late 19th Century.
Soviets at the newly built State Art Gallery swept passed the paintings by Rubens, Van Gogh and Cezanne but crowded around a section of American works that included one of Gilbert Stuart's portraits of George Washington and Andrew Wyeth's 20th-Century "Daydream" of a nude woman lying in bed.
The exhibit, organized by Hammer, who has known every Soviet leader since the Russian revolution in 1917, will also be shown in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, and in Odessa, the capital of the Soviet republic of Georgia, before returning to the United States in December.
The collection came from Leningrad, where it was showing at the Hermitage Museum. It includes 27 paintings not previously shown in the Soviet Union.