Henri Matisse’s The Dance is a contemporary art masterpiece. Created in two versions between 1909 and 1910, the first (on page 9) is held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, while the second (on the cover) is at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. The latter, the best known, was commissioned from Matisse, along with the painting The Music, by Sergei Ščukin, a Russian merchant and collector who was also a patron of Pablo Picasso.
“The Dance” is a metaphor for life, its continuous renewal, its eternal movement. The green at the feet of the dancers represents the Earth, of which it also follows the curvature; the intense blue is instead a distant sky, the red of the skin and hair of the characters is unreal. Matisse himself said: they could only be red “to obtain a luminous accord”. On the canvas the five dancers are represented holding hands, while their faces are barely outlined and so it is for their bodies, which, however, convey a strong dynamism. The aesthetic choices adopted by Henri Matisse for this painting, who was an exponent of the Fauves artistic movement, caused a real scandal in the art salons of 1910. (WCW)