The Ilya Glazunov Art GalleryRussian: Kartinnaya galereya Ili Glazunova or Картинная галерея Ильи Глазунова presents works by a prominent Russian painter of our age and holder of the UNESCO medal for outstanding contribution to world culture. Glazunov became known internationally as a master of portrait painting. He painted portraits for the kings of Sweden, Laos, and Spain, the Pope, the President of Finland, Indira Gandhi, etc. However, his works are more diverse than portraits, as he also interprets the history of Russia and its role in the development of human civilization in his artwork. The museum displays over 700 paintings, including the famous monumental works Eternal RussiaRussian: Vechnaya Rossiya or Вечная Россия, The 20th Century MysteryRussian: Misteriya XX veka or Мистерия XX века, The Kulikovo FieldRussian: Pole Kulikovo or Поле Куликово; a field in Tula Oblast in Russia where the famous Battle of Kulikovo took place in 1380, a series of illustrations of literary works of Dostoevsky and other classic Russian authors and drafts of stage settings for many renowned theatre and opera performances. The gallery is located in VolkhonkaRussian: Волхонка, on a crossroads of tourist routes, with the Pushkin State Museum of Fine ArtsRussian: Muzey izobrazitel’nykh iskusstv im. A. S. Pushkina or Музей изобразительных искусств им. А. С. Пушкина directly in front of it. It is also neighboured by the Cathedral of Christ the SaviourRussian: khram Khrista Spasitelya or храм Христа Спасителя on the right.
The Ilya Glazunov Moscow State Art Gallery opened in 2004. The painter donated his art and graphic works to the city. A close look at all of the exhibition halls will take you a couple of hours. The permanent exhibition covers the period of the artist’s creative life from adolescence until now, a total of almost 70 years (Ilya Sergevich celebrated his 86th birthday in 2016). The earliest period is presented in the first hall, displaying the very profound autobiographic painting LoveRussian: Lyubov or Любовь, which Glazunov created after he met his wife Nina Vinogradova-Benois. The second hall is home to the famous huge (3 x 6–8 m) paintings drawn in the 1980s–1990s.
One of the most recognised, Eternal Russia (1988), depicts an endless flow of people. The procession is led by Tsarevich Alexei, the son of the assassinated Emperor Nicolas II, accompanied by the great Russian saints Boris and Gleb, Sergius of Radonezh, Seraphim of Sarov, etc. The Tsarevich is followed by Dostoevsky, Gogol, Pushkin, Lermontov, emperors and tsars, scientists, and great Russian philosophers. In one painting, Glazunov depicts the whole history of Russia, from the exodus of the Aryans from the Holy Mountain (in the upper left corner) up until the 20th century. Glazunov completed this painting in 1988 to celebrate the millennium of the Christianisation of Kievan Rus’.
The 20th Century Mystery (1999) is another famous work. The painting depicts the violent events of the 20th century, its wars and cataclysms. Glazunov made a sketch of this painting in the spring of 1968, when he witnessed the riots in Paris. The protesters set fires, smashed shop windows, and hacked down the centuries-old chestnut trees glorified by French poets. Glazunov felt a strong desire to illustrate this century full of blood and conflagration. The painting was completed within a short period of time so it could be displayed in the his solo show in Moscow. However, he wasn’t allowed to display it. Moreover, the exhibition was cancelled and the Central Committee of the Communist Party was convened urgently to decide whether Glazunov should be deported. Only one vote saved the painter from being denaturalized as it was with the famous writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
Despite not having lived through these events, Glazunov felt keenly the effects of the October Revolution of 1917, the collapse of the monarchy and the disappearance of centuries-old Russian traditions. This topic is repeatedly addressed to in his works. His last completed monumental painting on this issue was DekulakizationRussian: Raskulachivanie or Раскулачивание; the Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of the better-off peasants and their families in 1929–1932. The painter depicts how peasant families in Russian villages were exiled and deprived of their homes, cattle and land when kolkhozesRussian: колхоз; a form of collective farm in the Soviet Union were created. The painting was finished in 2010. In his Smashing of the Church on an Easter NightRussian: Razgrom khrama v paskhalnuyu noch or Разгром храма в пасхальную ночь, the artist also touches upon the rise of the Bolsheviks to power and the fight against faith and the Church they initiated.
Kievan Rus’ is one of the central motives in Glazunov’s oeuvres. The Kulikovo Field series is dedicated to the era of Mongol invasionthe attempted conquest of Russia by the Mongol Empire and the decisive Battle Kulikovo (1380). The painter compels us to never forget our history and roots.
Illustrations of literary works of great Russian writers and poets are another thread in Glazunov’s creative heritage. He illustrated books by Aleksandr Kuprin, Nikolay Nekrasov, Alexander Blok, Pavel Melnikov-Pechersky, Nikolai Leskov, etc. Ilya Glazunov has been the only painter who illustrated all the works by Feyodor Dostoevsky, his favourite author, from the 1960s to 2008.
A few halls house only portraits painted by Glazunov. You can see portraits of Sergey Mikhalkov, Valentin Rasputin, Eugene Kozlovsky, Yelena Obraztsova, Sergey Bondarchuk, and other politicians, cultural figures, and artists.
A separate hall is dedicated to the architectural oeuvres of Ilya Glazunov. It presents photos of the interiors of the Grand Kremlin PalaceRussian: Bolshoy Kremlevskiy dvorets or Большой Кремлевский дворец, designed by the artist. He managed to reproduce the majesty and power of the Russian Empire that overwhelmed foreigners who visited the Palace a century prior. Glazunov also designed the President of Russia’s private study.
The gallery offers a café, hosts concerts, lectures, conferences, and wedding ceremonies. Free entry is offered on the third Sunday of each month.
Ilya Glazunov is a famous collector. His unique collection provides the basis for the new permanent exhibition, The Museum of Russia’s Classes, in the gallery. It will tell the history of artistic culture in pre-revolutionary Russia of the 16th–20th centuries.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com