Aleksandr Yakovlevich Golovin (b Moscow, 17 February 1863 – d Pushkin (then Detskoe Selo), 17 April 1930) studied architecture at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture before switching to painting. In 1899 he moved to Paris, studying at the Académie de Filippo Colarossi and the Académie Witti.
He worked in the Art Nouveau style during the 1890s. From 1899–1907 Golovin contributed to Mir Iskusstva exhibitions and designed several covers for the journal. He co-designed the interior of the craft section of the Russian Pavilion for the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. In 1906 Diaghilev included Golovin’s work in his Russian art exhibition at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.
Golovin began producing designs for the theatre in 1897. In 1899 and 1900 he designed productions for Savva Mamontov’s Private Russian Opera, and in 1901 for The maid of Pskov for the Bolshoi Theatre. He became an advisor for the Imperial Theatres in 1902 and principal designer in 1908, working with the company until 1917.
Diaghilev collaborated with Golovin on the Saisons Russes from 1908–13: the opera Boris Godunov (1908); The maid of Pskov (1908, with Nicholas Roerich and Sergi Stelletsky); L’Oiseau de feu (1910); Swan lake (1911, a collaboration with Konstantin Korovin); and the opera Ivan the Terrible (1913). Back in Russia he designed for a production of Masquerade (1917) at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. From then until his death he worked mainly as a stage designer in Russia (from 1927 as designer for the Moscow Art Theatre) and Europe.
Golovin c1910–17 (detail) St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music, St Petersburg © St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music Arts