The Dance

The Dance
Artist Henri Matisse
Year 1909
Medium Oil on canvas
Location Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Dimensions 102.2 in × 153.6 in
259.7 cm × 390.1 cm
Famous Paintings by Henri Matisse
L’Atelier Rouge, 1911
The Conversation, 1912
Woman Reading, 1894
The Dance, 1909
The Snail, 1953
Green Stripe, 1905
Beasts of the Sea, 1950
The Open Window, 1905
Woman with a Hat, 1905

The Dance by Henri Matisse is a two part celebration in the movement of human bodies. The five figures joined together appear to be lost in dance. The first version of a much paler hue, is the preview for the finally. The final painting features a dark blue background that pushes the radiant red bodies to the forefront. The viewer watches as the dancers’ feet lightly graze the flat green landscape in unison.

Style and Technique

Matisse unapologetically abandoned his expected Fauvism technique in this piece. He opted for a flatter use of color and introduced symbolism in his choices of hues. This excursion away from what he was known for also included his way of drawing the human body. His previous works included complicated images while the dancing bodies in this piece were quite primitive.

The Dance, completed in 1910, is one of Matisse’s most controversial and criticized works. The large oil on canvas painting stands out as a vision of fluid movement and simple color design.

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