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Henri Matisse - Dance [1910] | by Gandalf's Gallery
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Henri Matisse - Dance [1910]

Before this canvas, the theme of the dance passed through several stages in Matisse's work. Only in this composition of 1910, however, did it acquire its famous passion and expressive resonance. The frenzy of the pagan bacchanalia is embodied in the powerful, stunning accord of red, blue and green, uniting Man, Heaven and Earth.


How rightly has Matisse captured the profound meaning of the dance, expressing man's subconscious sense of involvement in the rhythms of nature and the cosmos. The five figures have firm outlines, while the deformation of those figures is an expression of their passionate arousal and the power of the all-consuming rhythm. The swift, joint movement fills the bodies with untamed life force and the red becomes a symbol of inner heat. The figures dance in the deep blue of the Cosmos and the green hill is charged with the energy of the dancers, sinking beneath their feet and then springing back.


For all its expressiveness, Matisse's Dance has no superfluous emotion, other than that required by the subject. The very organisation of the canvas ensures that. Instinct and consciousness are united into a harmonious whole, as we can feel in the balance between centrifugal and centripetal forces, and in the outlines of the figure on the left, strong and classical in proportion.


[Oil on canvas, 260 x 391 cm]

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Taken on July 22, 2010