Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Noreen Barnes

Second Advisor

Heather Hogg

Third Advisor

Glynn Brannan


Abstract A Gaze into the Personal Aesthetics and Accomplishments of Three Sons of the Silver Age of Russia By Karl Green A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Commonwealth University, 2009 Director: Dr. Noreen C. Barnes Professor, Director of Graduate Studies School of the Arts For each of us, I wonder how much our geographic location and time of existence affects us as humans: the way we think, respond, grow, and live our daily lives. More importantly, I question how our environment dictates who we are as people, the way that we choose to represent ourselves. How many of us are making conscious decisions about the way that we style our hair, dress our bodies, inflect our voices, and structure our walk - our personal aesthetic. What is the value in having a strong personal aesthetic, and does it have interest to the society in which we inhabit beyond our own personal vessels? Are we successful because of who we are, or because of what we do, or can we separate these two things? Do we choose to be gay or straight, or is it a choice, and how does society judge our gender during any particular time in history or location? Can a person flourish because of or in spite of his or her degree of masculinity or femininity? Do we choose to represent ourselves by announcing our sexual identity, or do we choose to blend into society? How much does the way we look and think about xiii who we are affect what we are able to achieve in our lifetime? If time travel exists, would an artist of notable talent have the same voice or dominance in a different culture, decade, or millennium? Could it be that in 2009, Russian artists like Nicolas Evreinov, Sergei Diaghilev, and Mikhail Kuzmin, not be successful in their professions and remain anonymous? Personally, would I have survived the Silver Age of Russia? Within a play, the characters or actors tell the story, but are the only characters people? The place and the time are also characters because they have life, emotion, style, and aesthetic: all of the traits that we as humans have. The Silver Age of Russia is such a character. This time in history is rich, diverse, and extremely controversial. Even the actual dates have even been disputed, yet lie within a small variance among scholars writing about this era. During this time, there existed huge variance in wealth and poverty, joy and grief, creativity and complacency. There was a great deal of unrest and uncertainty. Many committed suicide, whereas others flourished because they felt free to explore what was possible, to be whoever they wanted to be on any given day, to present personas that may or may not have been true depictions of who they were, to change or present to society a personal aesthetic in order to mask the atrocities of the day. Having nothing to lose can bring about total freedom of exploration. Today in 2009, we are also living in similar conditions throughout the world, but the one issue that separates Russia during the Silver Age and today is that this was a time where artists were revered and were important to society because the arts represented salvation, light, and diversion from what was happening. Although the Silver Age of Russia housed a multitude of gifted artists in all fields, I will focus on three of these „characters,? each of whom were known for their personal aesthetics and even after their passing, continue to contribute to the „World of Arts.? The arts during this time xiv owed much of its success to Sergei Diaghilev who created and supported a group of artists who would influence not only the performing and visual arts, but the literary arts. Diaghilev was not perceived as an „artist,? but an impresario. Nicolas Evreinov had a style that was all his own, and his talents were as diverse as humanly possible. Mikhail Kuzmin is known to be the first openly gay Russian writer of significance. Kuzmin was an extremely prolific writer and the effects that his personal journals had on his circle of friends and lovers were life - altering. „Gay? was not a term used in Russia in 1905, but by today?s language, Diaghilev and Kuzmin were of this persuasion, yet one can only speculate Evreinov?s true sexual desires and practices. Kuzmin gives credit to Diaghilev for his notoriety and had short working relationships with Evreinov; therefore, these three men were connected and would go in and out of each other?s lives throughout their careers. All three of these men were multi-talented, individualistic, and brilliant: always creating, always working, and always supporting art. Each of them, made important contributions, although Kuzmin and Evreinov remain obscure outside of scholarly circles. Each of these men had many traits in common such as their tireless passion for the arts and their personal representations on aesthetics. 1 Introduction


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2009