In a what would be comical if it weren’t so chilling turn for the Russian art world, painter Ilya Glazunov entreated Vladimir Putin to take up the case of realistic painters, struggling to eek out a living in the landscape of so-called “contemporary art.” According to Glazunov’s testimony, such painters are forced to forge careers abroad, while “contemporary art” thrives in Russia. As an example, he called up an exhibition in which one work basically consisted of a toilet. (It is safe to assume he wasn’t talking about the Society of Independent Artists exhibition of 1917.) He urged restrictions to be put in place to level the playing field for poor struggling artists like himself, who must get by on little more than his own personal state-funded museum, directly across from the Kremlin.
For his part, Putin agreed with Glazunov, lamenting that important artists like Malevich were forced to go abroad. Putin hastily clarified that Malevich’s Black Square didn’t qualify as “painting in the traditional sense,” but he still counted as an example as everyone knows “he could draw well.”
And while the Premier was clear he is not interested in banning more art – “We’ve already done that” – he did advocate for more support for realism. “Not Socialist Realism, but just Realism.”
Curators, put down your notepads – exhibitions entitled “Just Realism” have already blanketed the social networks.