An exhibition of paintings by Ilya Glazunov opened at the Kramskoi Museum in Voronezh on Thursday, March 28. The exposition includes over 30 works of the painter, as well as about 70 photographs from his archive.

The exhibition of one of the most famous Russian artists of the XX century occupied both floors of the exhibition hall. The staff of the Metropolitan Gallery of Ilya Glazunov – the main repository of the artist’s works – had to choose the smallest size paintings. 3x6 and 4x8 m size canvases common for Glazunov are difficult to carry and do not fit into any given room. Therefore, it was not the original that came to Voronezh, but only a reproduction of the painting “Eternal Russia” about 1.5x3 m in size (the original size was 3x6).<

Olga Ryabchikova, the Director of the Kramskoi Museum, noted that the exhibition fully represented the creative career of Ilya Glazunov, as it united all the genres in which the artist had worked. Visitors can see numerous portraits, in particular, one of the most famous works - “Russian Beauty”; cityscapes and genre paintings on the theme of the history of Russia (“Golgotha”, “Russian Icarus”, “Ivan the Terrible”, “The Legend of Tsarevich Dimitry”).

The works of Ilya Glazunov cause controversy both in the artistic environment and among ordinary people. Some consider Glazunov a true patriot of Russia, others a mediocre artist, putting the national idea at the forefront and always pushing the narrative of the authorities. Glazunov is one of the most titled artists of the country, a member of the Russian Academy of Arts, a People's Artist of the USSR, an awardee of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, a Full Cavalier of the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland”. He was on friendly terms with many political and public figures and painted their portraits. Among the most famous ones created by Glazunov are portraits of Leonid Brezhnev, Fidel Castro, Joseph Kobzon, Sergey Mikhalkov, Andrey Gromyko.

– I think that when a person has reached such heights, such recognition, it’s simply indecent to talk about him negatively. He had worked all his life, he was unusually intelligent, well-read, and worthy of respect. Everything else is a matter of taste. In Soviet times, he was a discovery. At that time, it was very difficult to break through with something non-academic. From a taste point of view, one can argue a lot about his works. In art, there is always a factor of obsolescence. Now, a lot of new things have appeared, against the background of which Glazunov can fall behind. But against the background, for example, of socialist realism, he wins, – Voronezh artist and set designer Mikhail Viktorov noted.

Art restorer Anton Trofimov, a graduate of the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture of Ilya Glazunov, an employee of the Ilya Glazunov Gallery, was acquainted with the artist and worked on the restoration of his paintings. According to the restorer, Ilya Glazunov had never completely handed the work on a painting over to the restorers or apprentices: he did a lot himself, sometimes he even removed or redrew some details. Anton Trofimov recalled that Ilya Glazunov was an energetic man until his very last days - he managed to combine artwork with the work in his own gallery and academy and the work of an adviser to the president.

– The fact that the Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture created by Ilya Sergeevich was placed in the former mansion of Bazhenov partly dictated the direction that he decided to develop. I mean the realistic academic school of painting. Today, many are guided by Western art, but Ilya Sergeevich believed that the Russian classical school is the basis that a true artist should master. I share these ideas. With a classical education, an artist can do anything. If he is ordered to paint a portrait, he will do it. If a person really claims to be a master, he will not call himself an artist and do what he pleases. Among contemporary artists, some may hold on to some kind of moral framework, but most take such a track that it looks like a publicity move. Sometimes this art is so dirty that it is impossible to hang it even at home, – Anton Trofimov said.

The exhibition has twice as many archive photographs telling about the life of the artist as the number of paintings due to their compact size.

In many photographs, Ilya Glazunov is depicted with President Vladimir Putin, former President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev, the first President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, director Stanislav Govorukhin and other political and public figures, as well as foreign stars, whose portraits he painted. Other photos captured long lines at Glazunov’s exhibitions in the Soviet times.

The exhibition of Ilya Glazunov will function in Voronezh until May 22. Admission is by tickets.