Ilya Glazunov

1930 – 1939

Ilya Sergeyevich Glazunov was born to the family of scholar Sergey Fyodorovich Glazunov and Olga Konstantinovna Glazunova (nee Flug). He was enrolled in a children’s school of art, and later attended secondary art school in the historical district of Petrogradskaya Storona.

1940 – 1949

During World War II, known as the Great Patriotic War, both of Glazunov’s parents perished during the Leningrad Blockade. Eleven-year-old Ilya Sergeyevich was evacuated to safety in the North (Bolshaya Zemlya). At his new residence in the Novgorod region, Glazunov attended school and created drawings based on life in the countryside. When the war ended, he returned to St. Petersburg and entered the school of arts under the auspices of the I. E. Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Here he immersed himself in painting and visited Tallin, Moscow and Kiev. At the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, elder Father Tikhon dissuaded the artist from taking the vow of monkhood and confered his blessings upon him to live in the outside world.

1950 – 1959

Glazunov studied at the I. E . Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, and engaged in student field training in Yukki, Vasil’sursk on the Volga, Plyos, and Uglich, as well as the construction site of the Kuibyshevsk Electric Power Station. He painted his diploma work, “The Roads of War,” which was rejected by the academy’s administrative board. He married Nina Aleksandrovna Vinogradovaya-Benois. Glazunov formed an acquaintance with L. L. Obolensky, conversations with whom sparked an interest in the personality of Dostoyevsky and early Russian paintings. He created the work “Dostoyevsky in St. Petersburg,” as well as illustrations to the novels “The Idiot” and “Demons.” He was awarded the grand prix in an international competition of young artists organized by the journal “World Student News.” He held his first one-man exhibition in Moscow at the Central House of Workers of the Arts, which became the subject of much controversy.


1960 – 1969

Glazunov elucidated his creative position in articles in the press and in an autobiographical book “The Road to You. From the Artist’s Notes.” He traveled widely and worked in the Russian North. Through his paintings he expressed his understanding of the Old Russian historical and cultural legacy. He traveled to Italy at the invitation of honored Italian workers of culture. He was accepted into the organizing committee of the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments (VOOPik). He became the organizer and director of the “Club for Enthusiasts of Old Russian Art” which was later renamed “Rodina” (Homeland). He worked on illustrations to the works of Kuprin, Lermontov, and A. K. Tolstoy. His exhibition housed in the administrative quarters of the Central Exhibition Hall in Moscow (Manege) was shut down five days after opening at the orders of the Moscow Artist’s Union. He painted the portraits of the 13th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Aleksy I (Simansky), and other members of the Russian Orthodox Church. He visited and held exhibitions in Copenhagen, Paris, and Laos. During a trip to Vietnam he created over 150 works: “The Vietnam Series.” He was accepted into the USSR Artist’s Union.


1970 – 1979

He drew illustrations to works of Dostoevsky, Nekrasov, Blok, Leskov, and Goncharov. Glazunov’s first Leningrad exhibition, held in the District Officer’s Building, was ordered to shut down by the Leningrad Regional Party Committee. The first monograph about the artist was published. He took a creative trip to Chile, and traveled to India. The artist’s daughter Vera was born. He traveled to Finland for an exhibition in Helsinki followed by one in Stockholm, Sweden. Exhibitions were held in cities of the Federal Republic of West Germany and the German Democratic Republic (FRG). The artist was awarded the “Golden Medal,” the highest award of the Society of German-Russian Friendship. A creative “exile” to Siberia, to the construction site of the Baikal-Amur Railway, results in the series “BAM.” He visited the Optina Monastery (Optina Pustyn). An exhibition was held in Moscow at the Manege, and another in Tokyo. Glazunov collaborated with his wife on the stage design for Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor’” at the Berlin State Opera. He began teaching at the Surikov State Art Institute in Moscow. As the 600-year anniversary of the Kulikovo Battle approaches, he worked feverishly on the series “Kulikovo Field.”


1980 – 1989

Glazunov was awarded the title “People’s Artist of the USSR. He collaborated with his wife on the stage design and costumed for Tchaikovsky’s opera “Queen of Spades” for the Berlin State Opera. He worked on stage design and costumed for the ballet “Masquerade” with music by A. I. Khachaturian for the Theater of Opera and Ballet in Odessa. He served as artistic set manager for Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “Tale of the Invisible Town of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya” for the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Exhibitions of Glazunov’s work were shown in major European capitals, as well as Russian and Ukrainian cities. He continued work on illustrations to a 12-volume collection of Dostoyevsky’s works. He took a creative sojourn to Nicaragua, where he created the “Nicaragua Diary” series of works. He visited Cuba, and painted a portrait of Fidel Castro. An exhibition at the Moscow Manege showcased 30-years of the artist’s works. Glazunov was appointed rector of the institute founded by him — the All-Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. A film about the artist, The Artist and Time,” was released.


1990 – 1999

Glazunov traveled with a group of students to Italy, where he painted a portrait of Pope Paul IV. He created the works “Apocalypse. The Blind Sower,” “The Wind,” “The Great Experiment,” “Glory to our Forefathers,” “Sergei Radonezh and Andrei Rublev,” Dostoyevsky,” “Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane,” “My Life,” and “Russia, Awaken!” Exhibitions were held in Perm, Sverdlovsk, Kuibyshev, Syktyvar, Dnepropetrovsk, Kislovodsk and Krasnodar. The documentary film “The Russia of Ilya Glazunov was released. He was awarded the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland” IV class. Glazunov won in an architectural design competition for the 
reconstruction of the 14th Building of the Moscow Kremlin. In a public poll taken by VTSIOM (the Russian Public Opinion Research Center), he was named “The Most Outstanding Artist of the XX Century.” UNESCO awarded the artist “the Golden Medal of Picasso” for his great contribution to culture and art. The exhibition “God Preserve Russia” opened in the Moscow Manege.


from 2000 to the present

The artist was awarded the Order for Merit to the Fatherland, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st class, for outstanding contributions in the sphere of domestic fine arts and education. A documentary film about Glazunov’s life and work, “Black Water, White Block of Ice,” was released. The Moscow State Gallery of People’s Artist of the USSR, Ilya Glazunov, opened its doors on 13 Volkhonka Street. He was awarded the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, “For Faith and Loyalty.” 
Glazunov’s gallery was visited by Patriarch Alexy II and Metropolitan Laurus of New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside Russia. At the Moscow Manege an exhibition opened to commemorate the artist’s 80th birthday, together with a photo exposition entitled “The Artist and Time.” The Russian Orthodox Church awarded Glazunov the Order of Andrei Rublev, 1st Class.