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Heart of Russia

A Celebration of a Russian Treasure: Ilya Glazunov

This year Russia has many anniversaries and birthdays to celebrate. 70 years since the
world averted the ultimate cataclysm, the world seems in dire straights again. However
daunting and perilous news today may be though, celebrating lives such as Ilya Glazunov
has led brings us hope of ongoing beauty and culture. Next week this Peoples Artist of
Russia turns 85, but his exuberant dedication to the arts still burns with
youthful enthusiasm.

Self-portrait from1999 - oil on canvas - (Ilya Glazunov)

On Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to the Moscow State Art Gallery
of the Peoples Artist of the USSR Ilya Glazunov and a new exhibition entitled, the
Museum of Russian Social Strata ( ). This new endeavor of
Glazunov is scheduled to open to the public in October, and it to include exhibition halls, a
lecture hall, a childrens creative center, a music room, and a library. The purpose of the
new addition will be as an educational opportunity for visitors to learn more about the
development of Russian national culture, the succession of epochs, and correlative art
appropriate to the various social classes over time. To better understand the significance of
this, its necessary to introduce Mr. Glazunov a bit here.
Vladimir Putin on a visit to the Museum of estates of Russia. With the peoples artist of the
USSR Ilya Glazunov (Kremlin)

Ilya Glazunov ( ), holds the title Peoples Artist of Russia for good reason.
Born on June 10th, 1930, in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Glazunovs paintings are Russian
national treasures. The man who is currently rector at the Fine Arts Academy in Moscow,
also possesses a UNESCO Gold Medal for outstanding contribution to world culture,
along with scores of other accolades. Perhaps best known for his illustrations in Fyodor
Dostoyevskys novel The Brothers Karamazov (see drawing below), his larger body of
works are actually more impressive. The artists religious masterpieces such as Russia the
Eternal and The Ruining of the Temple on Easter Night, are exquisite examples of thought
provoking Russian observation. At times controversial, the works of this magnificent
painter reflect like a shimmering time capsule, the Russia that is at once desperate and at
the same time blessedly hopeful.

Eternal Russia - 1988 (Ilya Glazunov)


One of the main advocates of the restoration of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour,
Glazunov is unique not only in his art genius, but for conveying that brilliance into the
public realm as a statesman. If ever there were a creative icon capable of traversing
intercontinental ideas and genres, Ilya Glazunov is that icon. By way of illustration,
Glazunovs famous subjects include legendary actress Gina Lollobrigida and Indira Gandhi
and many others. At the other end of the experience spectrum the artist was considered for
deportation in Soviet times, and was assigned to paint the wilds of the USSR in landscape
wonders for a time. The self professed monarchist still, Vladimir Putins official
representative holds justifiable sway over a Russian reserve of great consequence.
Glazunovs Russia is one where cultural depth coexists with political-philosophic treasures.

Just browsing the pages of Mr. Glazunovs website is something of a stunning revelation,
and a hurdle, if the truth be told. The works, the history, an especially his personal
photography as you see above, they paint not only a beautiful picture of rare imagination,
but also an historic path across the canvas of time. The artists 85 years, as I hinted in my
intro, remind us of immutable time and consequence. Please allow me to share with you
some of the magnificent works of this extraorindary painter and idealist.

The Market of Our Democracy

From 1999, this work is about the reflections of millions of Mr. Glazunovs countrymen
living in the post-Soviet era. Not unlike his The Destruction of the Church on Easter Eve,
this epic protrayal reveals his shared agony and anger over Russias seemingly ever present
albatross of dispair.

The Market of our Democracy 1999 (Ilya Glazunov)


Two Princes

From the cycle of 3o paintings projecting in historial pespective the old legend of
Zadonshchina (the region beyond the Don River), the cycle Kulikovo Field is a
beautiful depiction of the Russian peoples battled to be freed from the Tatar yoke. For
Russians, this vicory at the Kulikovo Field is significant part of the national consciousness
and is, at least artistically, absolutely fundamental to understanding of the country today.

(Ilya Glazunov)

Alyosha Karamazov

The illustration below by the artist is from is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor
Dostoyevsky. The book, set in19th century Russia, enters into deep debate as to the ideas of
God, free will, and morality.

(Ilya Glazunov)

The Last Bus


This haunting painting is characteristic of the artists Urban Cycle which depicts ordinary
contemporary lifescapes. Like other Glazunov motifs, these often grim and dark creations
reflect the psychological mood of the artist, the city and its people as seen through his
uncanny eyes. The onlooker can easily feel the day having passed beneath the floorboard of
this well worn bus.

The Last Bus from Glazunovs Urban Cycle (Ilya Glazunov)

And Spring Again

This more recent (2009) oil on canvas is one of my favorites. Here the artist seems to
maintain his now iconic thematic, while at the same time expanding somehow into what Id
like to think is a continual progressiveness. Even despite Glazunovs unshakable traditional
values, and often baroque inclination for sadness, theres a typical Russian comedic flair to
this one. Of course, I could be far wrong, but then this is the kind of emotion and
provocative nature his works evoke.

(Ilya Glazunov)
I will leave off for now save one final note about the extraordinary artist. Of accolades and
experiences, Ilya Glazunov has certainly had, and earned, more than his fair share of
rewards and punishments. His life in Leningrad during World War II, a kind of solitude and
supression during the Soviet times, these obviously tempered the man with a seeming steely
cool. Sucesses and awards have been many these last 85 years too, but no success is more
meaningful than what Glazunov has left his people. The museum and gallery that bears his
name will fascinate visitors for decades to come.

For this Russian icon though, I am sure the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and
Architecture Ilya Glazunov is his most treasured offering to his beloved Russia. Ive
borrowed a photo from the Gallery Ilya Glazunov to cement this idea. As for my humble
opinion, the term polific is overused, but not in reference to Ilya Glazunov, for
whom Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova name a newly discovered planet.

Thu, Jun 4 96 0