KGB to Central Committee. Memorandum about artist Ilya Glazunov’s state of mind and measures to distract him (2 pp). [R 8 October 1976, 2280-A] Excerpt.
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State Security Committee [KGB]
at the USSR Soviet of Ministers
8 October 1976, No 2280-A
To the CPSU Central Committee
The mood of the artist I.S. Glazunov
and the attitude to him of the creative community
The artist I[lya] Glazunov, who has been working in Moscow since 1957, has been variously received in different of strata of the creative community. On the one hand, a group of persons has grown up around Glazunov who see him as a gifted artist; on the other, he is regarded as totally without talent, someone who is reviving petty-bourgeois tastes in the pictorial arts.
At the same time, Glazunov has been regularly invited to the visit over a number of years by leading public and State figures who commission him to paint their portraits. Glazunov’s fame as a portrait-painter is quite high. He has painted President Kekkonen of Finland, the kings of Sweden and Laos, Indira Gandhi, Allende, Corvalan and many others. His exhibitions have been held in a number of countries and positive reviews have appeared in the foreign press. At the request of Soviet organisations he has made visits to Vietnam and Chile and the cycle of paintings he made there have been shown at separate exhibitions.
Glazunov’s position, his enthusiastic support abroad and apprehensive reception among Soviet artists, has led to certain difficulties in his development as an artist and, what is more complicated yet, his worldview.
Glazunov is a person without a sufficiently clear position and there are, without doubt, defects in his art. Most often he adopts the stance of a Russophile and this frequently descends into an openly anti-Semitic frame of mind. The confusion in his political views sometimes not only arouses caution but repulsion. His brash
character and elements of conceit also do not help in establishing normal relations within the creative milieu.
However, it would hardly be expedient to reject Glazunov for those reasons.
Demonstrative non-recognition by the Union of Artists has intensified the negative in Glazunov and could lead to undesirable consequences if we consider that Western representatives not only promote him but also try to influence him and, in particular, encourage him to leave the Soviet Union.
In view of the above it appears necessary to examine the situation in the milieu around the artist. Perhaps it would be expedient to involve him in some public activity, in particular in the creation of Museum of Russian Furniture in Moscow, the which he and those around him have been persistently trying to establish.
We request authorisation
Chairman of the State Security Committee
1. Notes and additions by translator and editor are bracketed, thus [ ];
2. Text added by hand is indicated in italic script;
3. when a handwritten phrase, figure or word has been added
to a previously typed document it is indicated by underlined italic script.
Translation, John Crowfoot