Students at the Glazunov Academy study time-honoured techniques of life …

Going to student art shows can be a bit of a bore. Young artists taking their first steps in the world are unlikely to produce truly original work. More often what you see is a good version of something you’ve seen before. Maybe a Koons made out of jelly, or a Rothko but with glitter. This is not to say that the students are to blame. With originality being such a prevalent criterion by which art is judged, the constant need to strive to be new must be exhausting.

But at the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, founded by highly decorated realist artist Ilya Glazunov, lacking originality is exactly the point. At the academy’s open day I met students who were self-consciously avoiding doing anything new or unexpected in their work, and in so doing helping to a visual counterpart to the worrying current trend for “traditional” values.  


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