Aleksandr Iakovlevich Golovin

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Golovin, Aleksandr Iakovlevich


Born Feb. 17 (Mar. 1). 1863, in Moscow; died Apr. 17, 1930. in Detskoe Selo, the present-day city of Pushkin, Leningrad Oblast. Soviet stage set designer. People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1928) and member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1912).

Golovin studied at the Moscow School of Painting. Sculpture, and Architecture (1881–89) with I. M. Prianishnikov, V. E. Makovskii. and V. D. Polenov and in Paris at the Academie Colarossi (1889) and the Vitti Studio (1897). He was a member of the World of Art Association. Golovin, who lived in Moscow until 1901 and in St. Petersburg, came under the influence of modern art. In the I890’s he participated in the activities of the Abramtsevo group, where he worked with majolica and wood. His early works in the theater were influenced by the colorful style of K. A. Koro-vin (Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Maid of Pskov, 1901, Bolshoi Theater, Moscow). Golovin also designed the stage sets for the private theatrical enterprise of S. P. Diaghilev in Paris (Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov, 1908, and Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird, 1910). His definitive style formed between 1910 and 1920. Striving to achieve artistic unity in the production, Golovin carefully executed sketches not only of the stage sets but also of the costumes and props, relating them to the overall conception of the production. Golovin’s works acquired stately splendor: apparently simple and balanced, his stage sets are graphically detailed, and subtly shaded patches of color form a mosaic (Moliére’s Don Juan, 1910, and Lermontov’s The Masquerade, 1917, both in the Aleksandrinskii Theater in Petrograd). During Soviet power Golovin designed decors for a number of plays in Leningrad and Moscow theaters (Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro, 1927, and Shakespeare’s Othello, 1930. both produced by the Moscow Art Theater). Golovin also painted representative dramatized portraits of Russian cultural figures (F. I. Chaliapin in the role of Boris Godunov, tempera, and color wash, 1912. Russian Museum. Leningrad; V. E. Meier-khol’d, tempera and pastel, 1910, Leningrad Theatrical Museum) and decorative landscapes and still lifes.


A. Ia. Golovin: Vstrechi i vpechatleniia, pis’ma, vospominaniia o Golovine. Leningrad-Moscow, 1960.
Bassekhes. A. Teatr i zhivopis’ Golovina. Moscow [1970].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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