Alexander Golovin's Art Nouveau: Behind the Curtain of Style
"...I see more: my eyes are like this music"
ALEXEI REMIZQV. "ST. PETERSBURG CULLY"
IN 1934, IN THE GRIP OF POST-REVOLUTIONARY HARDSHIPS, WHEN ART NOUVEAU WAS ALREADY, IRREVERSIBLY, A THING OF THE PAST - PART OF A HAPPY-GO-LUCKY GONE ERA IN WHICH YOUTH HAD LIVED, AND INSPIRED DEBATES ABOUT ART UNFOLDED ON THE PAGES OF THE MAGAZINES "WORLD OF ART" AND "APOLLO", AND A ROMANTIC ARTIST'S STUDIO SOARING ABOVE THE STAGE OF THE MARIINSKY THEATRE WITNESSED "POETIC" DUELS - MIKHAIL KUZMIN WROTE IN HIS DIARY: "SPRINGTIME. EVERYTHING IS IN BLOSSOM, AND THE VIEW FROM THE WINDOW IS LIKE GOLOVIN'S BLIND MAGAZINE COVERS: THE ENTIRE SPACE IS FILLED WITH GREEN ORNAMENTS OF DIFFERENT SHADES OF COLOUR... IT IS A PLEASURE AND JOY TO WATCH HOW THE BUDS ARE OPENING, THE GRASS IS GROWING, ALL IS LIMPID, AND TWIGS ARE ELEGANT (PICTURE VERSUS COLOURATION)"1.
Golovin's biography, written by his first biographer Erich Gollerbakh2, was published in 1928, and is filled with such vernalautumnal effects of light, imperceptibly expanding decorativeness, and the naturally generous imagination characteristic of Golovin's art and personality. The seasonal iconography of Golovin's works affords valuable insights into his psychology. Following the cycle of spring, summer or autumn, this iconography logically coincides with those periods in the life of nature, most favoured by the romantic Symbolists, when the beauty of bloom or the delicacy of early wilting is felt most keenly.
The motif of the seasons is the first visual image introducing the viewer to the aesthetics of the artist whose works so often feature long strands of foliage curling up to form an inspired pattern of utterly new decorative space in the hues of either roseate sunset ("Birches at Night", 1908-1910, Tretyakov Gallery), or the growing rebelliousness of autumn ("Autumn", 1920s, Russian Museum). In Golovin's oeuvre nature has a special symbolic and poetic role, as it does in the works of most Art Nouveau artists (like Mikhail Vrubel, Viktor Borisov-Musatov, the artists from such groups as the "Blue Rose", "Les Nabis", and the "Vienna Secession" (Wiener Secession)). One of Golovin's signature motifs, the grassland "shooting forth" tall sprouts (as in "Forest", 1910s, Russian Museum; "Overgrown Swamp", 1917, Tretyakov Gallery; and certain theatrical sketches) or tree trunks, with the pearly birch trees taking the lead ("Little Birches", 1908-1910, Tretyakov Gallery; "A View in Pavlovsk", 1910, Tretyakov Gallery), reflects the idealistic worldview of the era of Romanticism and Symbolism. "'What is the grass?'... It must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuffwoven... And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves... The smallest sprout shows there is really no death."3
This sentiment is echoed in another iconographic feature of Golovin's landscape compositions. Despite the smooth progress of its advance, the foliage in his paintings is always restless and rich in decorative drive in the spirit of Kuzmin's poetry. This "internal" ornamentality is also connected with the regular poetic "heroes" of the Art Nouveau. Wind is an image of the soul, combining romantic impulse and musical elusiveness - the elusiveness which, in the Art Nouveau era, sought channels for expressing itself not only through the art of composers but also in the work of artists. At the level of narratives and ornamental drive, there are many examples of this in Golovin's compositions. And even in Golovin's late works this wind, the symbol of the soul, sweeps up the iridescent rosy-yellow-blue curtain pictured in the sketch of the "Balcony in the Palace" ("The Marriage of Figaro", 1927, Moscow Art Theatre Museum), linking up the musical-symphonic dimension of Golovin's worldview with the lyrical image of the grove: "Wind... you will not leave me?"4 Not accidentally, Remizov, who had a knack for witty nicknames highlighting their owners' character and creativity, dubbed Golovin "Dada"5 - "woodman". Following a close look at Golovin's visual aesthetics, this association appears apt in the context of both Russian and European Art Nouveau (the inscription at the entrance to Emil Galle's workshop in Nancy should be remembered: "My root is in the foundation of a forest.") Even the white fluttering strips of Golovin's stage curtains, lost in the golden-blue portieres and the frothy swirl of ribbons (the sketch for Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin", 1925, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum) sometimes evoke harp-like modulations of something birch-like, arboreal. On the level of verbal aesthetics, Remizov's metaphorical-improvisational vocabulary provides many insights into Golovin's ornamental-decorative style.
In the scholarship devoted to Russian Symbolism and Art Nouveau one can find many references to the image of Vyacheslav Ivanov's "symbolist tower"6. However, there have been so far only a handful of references to what may be called the tower's "double" in the area of theatre and visual art - namely, "the Golovin tower" of arts, whose abstract symbol can be associated with the artist's studio "under the roof of the Mariinsky Theatre"7. From 1901 onwards, when he moved to St. Petersburg, Golovin spent most of his time in this "artistic" space. The studio was home to "secret" consultation meetings, debates and work sessions devoted to future productions; in this studio Golovin created the portraits of Nicholas Roerich (1907, Tretyakov Gallery), Vladimir Kankrin (1909, Russian Museum), Mikhail Kuzmin (1910, Tretyakov Gallery), Marina Makovskaya (1910-1912, Russian Museum), Vasily Dolmatov (1912, St. Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music) and, of course, Feodor Chaliapin as Mephisto in a red costume (1905, Academic Museum of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts) and in a black costume (1909, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum), Farlaf (1907, St. Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music), Demon (1906, Museum of the Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet), Holofernes (1908, Tretyakov Gallery), and Boris Godunov (1912, Russian Museum). It was in Golovin's studio that the poetic "duels" mentioned above arose - the dramatic encounter between Nikolai Gumilev and Maximilian Voloshin, the mock duelling between Chaliapin as Holofernes and his friend the cartoonist Pavel Shcherbov, who reacted emotionally to the vocal ornamentation of Arabic speech emulated by the singer. Certainly, the analogy with "the Ivanov tower" is only a superficial one, a stage curtain introducing you to the atmosphere of the poem of Golovin's life, which was largely embodied, in the spirit of the Art Nouveau ideals, in his imagery.
When considering the immediate natural impulses influencing the formation of Golovin's visual aesthetics, 1889 was a very important year - the year of his first travel abroad. The artist's romantic memories of old Moscow and parks near Moscow (most of all the Petrovsko-Razumovskoe park) influenced considerably the formation of the mood of lyrical contemplation characteristic for his oeuvre. The period when the artist participated in the Moscow "neo-renaissance" of the Abramtsevo group of artists, which he joined thanks to his teacher Vasily Polenov and his friend and mentor Yelena Polenova, was also an important professional milestone. In its early stage of development, Golovin's stylistic idiom was directly connected with folklore motifs. It should be noted that in Russia, as in other countries, the artistic vocabulary of Art Nouveau drew first of all on vernacular art forms. However, it was a mythopoetic, rather than archaeological, worldview that formed the basis of the stylistic interpretations in art8.
Golovin achieved a high point in this poetic synthesis with a sketch of the set for Scene 1 of Stravinsky's ballet "The Firebird" (1910, Tretyakov Gallery). In the image of the garden "of the stifling hot kingdom of Kashchey the Deathless", on the entrance gate to which sleeping suns rest, magic apples shine with golden light and branches of luxurious trees curl themselves up to form a quirkily impenetrable ornament, Golovin succeeded in reaching (almost according to Pushkin) that "captivating extreme limit" of decorative and stylisation skills to which Art Nouveau aspired. Speaking about "neo-Russian" motifs, it would be interesting to note that even in his textile design sketches for a production of "Othello" in 1929-1930 Golovin used images of woodland bell-flowers, stylised golden cones and dark-red flowers with smaragdine bud marks, which could have quite naturally grown somewhere on the Abramtsevo estate. Other recurrent stylised folklore motifs in Golovin's oeuvre include the images of the sun and moon, of forest grass and birds (for instance, owls).
However, Golovin's Art Nouveau was of course not limited to the "Abramtsevo trend". The characteristics of the artist's iconographic motifs and pictorial vocabulary locate him within the context of the general international aesthetics of Art Nouveau as well. Thus, for instance, "his" owls are pictured with an altogether different romantically lunar colouration on the curtain for the prologue to "Magic Mirror" (1903, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum). The visual aesthetics of Golovin's imagery was inspired by the "World of Art" artists' retro dreams of St. Petersburg, as well as by the northern colours of his favourite summer house in Volosovo, where the atmosphere evoked not only Ibsen's or Hamsun's landscapes but also awakened reminiscences of Carlo Gozzi, Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and Maurice Maeterlinck. A resident of Tsarskoe Selo since 1913 (after the revolution he lived in the semi-circular right wing of the Catherine Palace in Detskoe Selo), Golovin seamlessly incorporated this town's fine poetic colours into his metaphorically multi-dimensional "theatre" of visual images, using a complex custom-made technique (mixing glue paints, tempera, gouache and his special favourite, pastel9) to capture these colours.
Golovin's aesthetic features a variety of recurrent images. Among such poetic visual "milepost melodies" are the motif of the rose, which became what may be called an incarnation of the theme of "eternal femininity"; motifs of lunar or stellar light, and the moon; and the motif of tall grass and foliage swathed in wind. This group of images arguably includes the Hoffmanesque theme of the double, featured in many of Golovin's works from different periods. Not accidentally, Golovin's illustrations, created in 1922, for Hoffmann's novel "Die Doppelganger" (The Double), which Golovin considered some of his best drawings, symbolically brought together all the leading ornamental images his fantasy had ever conjured up: the round face of the moon, whose reflection in a pond brings up the theme of mutual artistic replacement (on the cover of the book), the perennially blooming rose of dream, which, pushing its way, reaches above the cartwheel of time between death and life (in the insert before the first chapter). Golovin's oeuvre also features some chromatic motifs, which never repeat themselves in psychological iterations while also retaining traces of his favourite colour palette.
The artist's easily recognisable vocabulary, in which ornamental-decorative balance coexists with the spirit of the era resurrected by Golovin and his lyrical ideas about interconnections with it, is directly related to Art Nouveau's central ideas about the inter-relationship between style and stylisation, tradition and innovation, ancient times and the contemporary, individualism and objective historicism. In the era of Art Nouveau, past times were transformed from a home-grown and reverentially treated "lady with a reticule" into a"sleeping beauty" that could be awakened by a modern artist's touch. That was precisely the mission of Golovin and Meyerhold, who teamed up in the 1900s and 1910s to produce landmark romantic-symbolist performances of the "theatre of the perennially resurgent times of yore" - Moliere's "Don Juan (1910, Alexandrinsky Theatre), Gluck's opera "Orpheus and Eurydice" (1911, Mariinsky Theatre), and Lermontov's drama "Masquerade" (1917, Alexandrinsky Theatre).
The actualisation of visual experiences of the past included both improvisational and expertly "modelled" components. Working on his projects, Golovin did meticulous research in archives, libraries, and antique shops - such places repeatedly gave impetus to the artist's imagination. Such was the case, for instance, when Golovin came upon the portrait of the tenor singer Nuri10, who performed in the 1830s as Orpheus - this image suggested to Golovin the idea for the Orpheus costume; another such example was an occasional "encounter", in a junk shop, with the portrait of a Venetian woman from the period of the Republic's decay - this composition stirred up in the artist's soul autumnal echoes which brought about his "Marquise" (1908, Fine Arts Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan). However, all this "Salieriism", as Golovin called the accumulation of artistic knowledge, could coexist with, and was even overcome by, an unrestrained creative transformation of a material into its own "image-symbol", "image-picture", even when such a picture was just a sketch of a set or an ornamental outline. Meyerhold, whose views Golovin largely shared, wrote about stylisation: "The notion of 'stylisation', in my opinion, is related to the idea of abstraction, generalisation and symbol. To 'stylise' an era or a phenomenon means to use all means of expression in order to reveal the inner synthesis of a given era or phenomenon, to reproduce their hidden characteristics..."11
Only by taking into account this "released current of transformations" in Art Nouveau, can one reach a deeper understanding of why, for instance, Golovin added to the group of masked people at the ball in Lermontov's "Masquerade" a character such as Simonetta - an epitome of the Quattrocento ideal of femininity and a landmark image for the Symbolists. Boldly incorporating stylisation, Art Nouveau championed poetic intuition, building on the idea that it was not the trappings of a style (which can be professionally mimicked) that created imagery but, rather, that imagery gave rise to style. In the symbolist poet W.B. Yeats' brief contemplative poem "Ego Dominus Tuus" (1915, "I am your lord") [the title is taken from Dante's "La Vita Nuova" - O.D.], which illustrates the views of Art Nouveau artists on the birth of style, the subjective spirit of creativity enunciates: "... I seek an image, not a book [NB: not a finished stylistically organised text - O.D.]... I call to the mysterious one who yet / Shall walk... / And look most like me, being indeed my double... / being my anti-self..."12 It was in this precedence of image over book, in this visual-poetic deepening of emotion on the basis of, although not due to knowledge, that Golovin saw the sacrament of creativity: "... how you found your style, how you came to it. This is the question which, I believe, is impossible to answer... Here we approach some dark, obscure realities of the inner life which escape 'explanation'."13
The soul of the Art Nouveau era was pervaded throughout with that element which transforms the world of objects and which Andrei Bely in his "orphic" "Song of Life" called "musical panache": "instead of ideas - melody, instead of history - style: all is nothing but music", "sounds became colours", "words became sounds"14 - such is the organic nature of the artistic vocabulary discovered and championed by the romantic Symbolists. Not surprisingly, Orpheus became one of the main Art Nouveau images, and Orpheus was a landmark symbol in Golovin's art, with its aesthetics based on a synthesis of decorative and metaphorical harmonies.
It should be noted that Golovin approached the musical components of his projects very seriously and thoughtfully. For instance, in his outline of the "Principles for Producing 'The Firebird'" he devoted a separate paragraph to "Correct approach to musical themes"15. The image of the poet and musician had featured already in the composition of the decorative mural "Orpheus Playing" (1898-1905), intended for the walls of the Metropol Hotel - in this composition the image served as an overture to Golovin's oeuvre. However, the theme of Orpheus reached a visual climax in the sketches of the sets Golovin created in 1911 for "Orpheus and Eurydice" (Bakhrushin Theatre Museum) - his "most beloved"16 creation. Through the prism of lofty, spiritualised myrtle groves and the heavenly-cerulean and silver-golden colour scheme of the overall elegiac tenor of the visuals, in line with the tragic element of Gluck's melodies, the image of Orpheus as interpreted by Golovin reveals its harmonious dimension as in Camille Corot's romantic interpretation ("Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld", 1861, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) and Mikhail Kuzmin's Apollonian theory of "lovely clarity". With several exceptions (like Puvis de Chavannes' "Orpheus", 1883, private collection), in Western European Symbolism the ancient Greek singer "came back to life" as a dead poet surrounded with the visual aura of silent music. That was the vision of Orpheus presented in the pieces of Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon and Jean Delville. In their compositions, the secret life of faded rhymes was the most natural kin of the platonic, landscape style - an abstract essence of the soul and the theme of the unavailability, inaccessibility and loneliness of the soul's existence within an individual. Bely eloquently summarised this self-perception: "...our souls are not resurrected Eurydices... Orpheus calls his Eurydice."17 Of course, Symbolism is often associated with a requiem-like ("decadent") worldview. However, the emotional characteristics of Symbolism were heterogenous and directly connected with individual traits of the artist's soul: "Body = symbol of soul,"18 wrote the poet who published his work under the pseudonym Ellis.
The image of Orpheus highlighted in Golovin's Art Nouveau works its element of lyrical contemplation close to that poetic "optimism of the era" which, in 1914, Nikolai Minsky linked to Maeterlinck's outlook on life. From the point of view of the symbolist "epiphanous" perception of life, Golovin's landmark colour combinations include those of rosy and golden, orange and yellow, and green and blue. The variations of these combinations in the artist's compositions have different degrees of intensity (which are sometimes even imperceptible if they are seen only in reproduction), but they nearly always preserve their natural radiant foundation. Golovin introduced an emotionally light-toned "group of rosy ones" (this group was indicated by the artist himself on the sketches of costumes for the ball scene, now at the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum) even into the dimly-deep burgundy colour scheme of the "Masquerade" set, which naturally echoes the tragic mood of the performance. Some of Golovin's landscapes and interior scenes are entirely permeated with combinations of gold, green, rosy and blue (for instance, "Marceline's Room" with its lemony-lunar atmosphere partially inspired by the poetic reminiscences of Art Nouveau, 1927, Moscow Art Theatre Museum).
But even the works dominated by different colour palettes sometimes feature the above-mentioned visual echo, conveyed, in an abstract form, by an iconographic motif - a rose or "rosy" bloom in general. This itinerant "image-symbol" occurs not only in Golovin's floral still-lifes and ornamental drawings, but is also a regular in his portraits of Spanish women ("A Spanish Woman in Green", 1906-1907, Russian Museum; "A Spanish Woman on a Balcony", 1911, Russian Museum) and in many other portraits created at different periods (for instance, "Portrait of Maria Voeikova", 1905, Tretyakov Gallery; "Female Portrait (The Singer Valentina Kuza?)", 1910s, Tretyakov Gallery; "Portrait of Marina Makovskaya", 1910-1912, Russian Museum). The colours of the sky, flowers and creatively generous light, incorporated into the colour schemes combining rosy, blue and green-yellow, also figure in the symbolic rose bush in Golovin's "Umbrian Valley" (1910s, Tretyakov Gallery). It is not without reason that this landscape resembles a fresco, and Golovin's roses bring back to life the symbolist dream about the art of large spaces, about harmonious synthesis of music, memory, word and image. Here it would be appropriate to remember Mikhail Vrubel and Viktor Borisov-Musatov, Nicolas Millioti and Nikolai Sapunov. Golovin's roses are the same kind of concentric image-metaphor of romantic landscape within whose space, steeped in legend, one can transcend oneself. The motif of the rose also regularly occurs in the verse of the poets who were Golovin's contemporaries (among the poets with an emotional sensitivity kindred to Golovin's were Alexander Blok, Mikhail Kuzmin and Alexei Remizov) and the works of Western European Art Nouveau artists. Swathed in poetic spirituality, this motif emerges in the harmonious rhythms of the visual visions in Gustav Klimt's "Music" (1895, Neue Pinakothek, Munich), and in a spiritually refined form (in keeping with the image of the heavenly world in Byzantine mosaics) - in the mandorla of the Garden of Eden on Klimt's"Beethoven Frieze" (1902, Secession Building, Vienna). A similar motif of roses, evoking the themes of virginally sensitive and sacredly mysterious life of the soul, is likewise featured in the English Art Nouveau images of gardens - for instance, in the form of briar roses, in Edward Burne-Jones's compositions ('The Legend of Briar Rose", 1871-1890, Buscot Park, Faringdon Collection). Golovin supplied this musical-poetic image of the flower (flowers) with a distinctive visual story.
Treating the "subject of the eternal feminine", the artist does not focus on idealising a human being but, rather, emphasises the floral-ornamental dimension, which, being less sensual, is associated with "the theme of the soul". Such an approach has a symbolical meaning within the context of the artist's individuality; the invisible soul in Symbolism is most often conveyed through idealised female images. Not without reason, the poet Blok wrote that Desdemona was Othello's soul above all19. Golovin, with his "trusting mysticism", saw the platonic element of physical objects in the decorative motif of bloom, although the "bloom" is not tranquil either. Thus, there is a finely coloured connection between the sentiments and forms captured in the fragment of passionate contours of the grey orchid ornament (1929, Moscow Art Theatre Museum) and in the trembling "lunar" delineations in the "Portrait of Ballerina Yelena Smirnova" (1910, Tretyakov Gallery), which brings to the mind Vasily Rozanov's theory about"the people of moonshine" - the special spiritually delicate souls dreaming about eternity.
The "lunar" motif in Golovin's art, placed in various narrative, chromatic and psychological contexts (from romantic to fatally-mystical sentiments)20, also plays an important and complex role. However, given the constraints of a short article, it is possible to look only at some of the deep historical and poetic layers of Golovin's oeuvre. It is important to remember that his art was never dominated by any dark element. Thus, the "night motif" of Golovin's late pieces, featuring his regular juxtaposition of dark-blue and golden hues, is transformed into a triumphant accord of "golden honeycombs" of the Venetian "Senate" and the captivatingly intimate ornament of "Desdemona's Bedroom" (sketches of the sets for Shakespeare's "Othello" (produced in 1930), 1929, Moscow Art Theatre Museum). This shining sphericality of the blue-and-gold space of many of Golovin's works seems to be suggesting visual associations with an idea promoted by Oscar Wilde, whom he adored, about how dreaming artists of the era of aestheticism and Art Nouveau live in the "honeycombs"21 of art.
In the late period of his work, Golovin remained a romantically artistic personality. Not without reason, Gollerbakh in 1928 wrote that Golovin was an Orpheus hidden inside an Oblomov22.
The reader will have noticed that this article references many works created before or after the era formally considered as the Art Nouveau period. The fact is that a comprehensive analysis of Golovin's oeuvre would necessarily involve a complex theme potentially present in the work of most artists who contributed a lot to the creation of the iconographic distinctness of Art Nouveau. We still do not have robust criteria for evaluating the degree of real innovation of an artistic vocabulary which, at an individual level, continues its idiosyncratic development and improves creative principles of a preceding period despite changes in the reference points along the line of the "grand style". With relation to Art Nouveau this issue appears to be especially important, and in Russia - even tragic, considering the rupture occasioned by the revolution. To the hardened "spirit" of the times, the profuse luxury of the Art Nouveau vocabulary appeared excessive at best. "I am the weeping one, the impostor,'Orpheus' who saw himself in the Harlequin's hat"23 - that was the innermost self-perception of most Silver Age artists, which persisted after the end of the formally circumscribed period.
However, if the time does not "weep", the poet always will. Even when they come to an end, neither styles nor eras disappear from the history of art, and the Golovin shows organised by the Russian Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery are a timely reminder of that. Golovin's sketches for Beaumarchais's "The Marriage of Figaro" (1927, Moscow Art Theatre Museum) and the tragedy"Othello", in which the Art Nouveau dream about a synthesis of the arts was realised, as well as the folders containing the artist's ornaments and design patterns for fabrics (1929-1930, Moscow Art Theatre Museum), demonstrate the harmony and coherence of the development of the artist's style. The Art Nouveau of Golovin, or any other exponent of this movement, is a beautiful curtain hiding something even more beautiful - the search for one's own soul-"Eurydice". And one cannot help seeing a symbolical meaning in the fact that, as early as 1910, through the bow of a rose bush in Golovin's "Umbrian Valley" transpired an iridescent combination of yellow-rosy and green-and-pale-blue petals, which were unexpectedly incorporated into the subdued solemnity of the artist's late ornamental drawings by the logic of inner life.
- Kuzmin, Mikhail. "Diary from 1934". St. Petersburg: 2007. P. 29.
- Gollerbakh, Erich."Alexander Golovin: His Life and Art". Leningrad: 1928. (Hereinafter Gollerbakh)
- Whitman, Walt.'Song of Myself'. In: Whitman, Walt."Long and Short Poems. Social Commentary". Moscow: 1986. P. 328.
- Remizov, Alexei. 'Posolon'. In: Remizov, Alexei. "Collected Works". 2 volumes. "Dokuka i balagurie (Boredom and Buffoonery)". Moscow: 2000. P. 8.
- Remizov, Alexei. 'St. Petersburg Rusalia'. In: Remizov, Alexei."Collected Works". Vol. 10. St. Petersburg Gully. Moscow: 2002. P. 238.
- This is how the poet's St. Petersburg apartment was known - the apartment where the owner hosted, from 1905, the famous "Ivanov Wednesdays" - assemblies where the theoretical principles of Symbolism were fleshed out and debated.
- It was not without reason that this imaginative name was used in "Golovin and Chaliapin. A Night Under the Roof of the Mariinsky Theatre" (Leningrad: 1958) - the memoirs of Boris Almedingen, Golovin's assistant at the studio.
- It was at that time that Alexander Afanasyev and Fyodor Buslaev laid the foundation for mythology scholarship in their works, which were avidly read by Russian artists at the end of the 19th century.
- The Art Nouveau artists' interest in such mediums as pastel reflected their view of the visible world as a materially inconstant and musically fluid image. Added to the palette, pastel lent additional dimensions, softness and spatial ambivalence to the emotional tenor of the piece.
- Golovin, Alexander.'Orpheus.. In: "Articles and Notes about Meyerhold's Work as a Director in Moscow and Leningrad Theatres". Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. Fund 963. File 1. Item 1191.
- Meyerhold, Vsevolod. 'Theatre (About Its History and Techniques)'. In: "Theatre. A Book about the New Theatre". St. Petersburg: 1908. P. 130.
- Yeats, William Butler. 'Ego Dominus Tuus'. In: Yeats, William Butler. "The Winding Stair". Moscow: 2012. P. 258.
- Golovin, Alexander."Meetings and Impressions". Leningrad-Moscow: 1960. P. 52. (Hereinafter, Meetings and Impressions)
- Bely, Andrei.'The Song of Life'. In: Bely, Andrei."Criticism. Writings about Aesthetics. Theory of Symbolism". Vol. 2. Moscow: 1994. P. 52. (Hereinafter referred to as Bely. The Song of Life)
- Golovin, Alexander. Creative materials. Guiding principles for the production of"The Firebird" ballet. Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. Fund 739. File 1. Item 3. Sheet 1.
- Meetings and Impressions. P. 132.
- Bely. The Song of Life. P. 60.
- Ellis (Lev Kobylinsky)."A Diary". Department of Manuscripts at the Russian State Library. Fund 167. Card 10 Item 16. Sheet 9.
- For more detail, see: Blok, Alexander. 'Secret meaning of the tragedy "Othello"'. In: Blok, Alexander. "Works". 6 volumes. Leningrad: 1982. Vol. 4. Pp. 364-369.
- With relation to the effort to systematise Golovin's pieces featuring the motif of "moonshine", we cannot forego mentioning the special circumstances surrounding the sketch for the set of"The Fountain Scene" (c. 1908) for Musorgsky's opera"Boris Godunov" - a drawing now held at the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum and listed as a Golovin piece (ID: 6018). Working on this article, this writer discovered that the piece was wrongly attributed. Golovin's authorship is questionable because he designed only seven of eight scenes in the Diaghilev production (May 14, 1908, Theatre du Chatelet, Paris). The set for "The Fountain Scene" was designed by Alexandre Benois.
- From Oscar Wilde's letters. Quoted from: Lambourne, Lionel. "The Aesthetic Movement". Moscow: 2007. P. 6.
- Gollerbakh. "Golovin". 1928. P. 85.
- Bely, Andrei."The Start of the Century". Moscow: 1990. P. 316.