It is scarcely possible to find such a crucial, but also disturbing and problematic, document in the history of Russian art as the intimate diaries of Konstantin Somov (1869–1939). These day-to-day notes describe his everyday affairs in Petrograd, New York and Paris of the 1910s–1930s, and could be read as the writings of a symbolist artist from a Sergei Diaghilev circle, an emigrant and a homosexual.
Somov's political views, gay confessions, and use and understanding of queer imagery in his artworks motivated Soviet editors to distort and publish the diaries in order to devise a new, false definition of his art. Pavel Golubev, visiting research scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzes this fraudulent interpretation that omits erotics and politics.
Pavel Golubev graduated from Moscow State University and in 2018 defended a Ph.D. thesis on Konstantin Somov and homosexuality in early 20th-century Russian art. He wrote a monograph on the same theme titled Dama, snimayushchaya masku (Lady, Taking Off the Mask), issued by Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie in 2019. As an editor, Golubev is responsible for a multivolume edition of diaries by Konstantin Somov, published in its original language, which covers the artist's original notes from 1917 to 1929. As a curator, he made the exhibition Konstantin Somov. Uncensored at the Odesa Fine Arts Museum in 2019 and wrote two versions of the monographic catalog for this show. Golubev has also been heading the Somov Society since its founding in 2016.