Antonio Munoz Molina: “You can’t ask a Russian artist to point out whether or not he supports Putin”

The writer Antonio Munoz Molina who presents his new book ‘Rondas del Prado’, considers that a Russian artist “cannot be asked to point out” whether or not he supports the Putin government since “it can lose much more than anyone else” by being under a dictatorship.

“You cannot ask a normal artist to point out and even more so with a regime that is a dictatorship. What right do we have to ask or demand that someone be brave, knowing that they will lose much more than we lose?the author has questioned in an interview with Europa Press.

For Muñoz Molina, the Russian citizens who have demonstrated these days against the invasion of Ukraine are “admirable to the extreme”, but he recalls that there are “very harsh consequences to pay”. “I am not going to ask a Russian pianist who comes to Madrid to condemn his Government: if he wants, I am glad, if not, I am not going to demand what I would not be willing to pay“, he lamented.

Another situation, on the other hand, would occur in cases such as that of the conductor Valery Gergiev, fired from several European philharmonics for his express support of Putin. “It seems logical to me, because this man is an open defender of Putin and it is logical that he has to pay sanctions“, he remarked.

On the contrary, Muñoz Molina describes as “ridiculous” to propose censoring authors of this nationality simply because they are from there. “It’s like when in World War I in France you couldn’t listen to German music or in Israel Wagner’s music was banned. How are we going to do without them?” he warned.

‘Rondas del Prado’ is a book that collects the conferences given by Antonio Muñoz Molina as director of the Prado Chair in 2019, sponsored by the Cultural Foundation of Notaries. Precisely in these pages the author defends the importance of culture, especially in situations like now with the war in the background in Europe.

Culture has a stronger meaning, which is to defend what is human, civilization, harmony or beauty. In addition, it also serves as a denunciation and has done so many times with war with incomparable effectiveness: think of Goya, for example. We need art and literature today more than ever”, he pointed out.

Muñoz Molina is clear about his favorite artist in the Prado –Velázquez, who is also the most cited in his book– and supports him by inviting us to check “the degree of virtuosity” that the Sevillian painter offered. “For me, he is only comparable to Rembrandt in painting and to Shakespeare and Cervantes in literature,” he added.

The author of ‘The Polish Rider’ also defends in the book the idea that museums are the ones that make the work of art and not the other way around. “The museum puts all the paintings of an era together on the same wall and asks you to look at it equally: there they become art“, he highlighted.


Muñoz Molina’s chair concluded a few months before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which first led to the closure of the museum and then an opening with capacity restrictions. In the cultural field, the author assures that these limits have also served to reflect on the overcrowding of these spaces in recent years.

“It went from a mass museum model, which I understand on the one hand that governments demand profitability from museums, to another that allowed contemplation. The function of the museum disappears if it does not allow enough tranquility to see the work and that is why I believe that access to the public must be limited: for the good of the work and for that of the visitor”, he concluded.

By Editor

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