|La Danse de Paris, 1931-33|
|The Unfinished Dance, 1931|
|La Danse, 1909|
|La Danse, 1910|
Two earlier versions of La Danse were created in 1909 and 1910 and they are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg respectively. Compared to these earlier works on the same subject made two decades ago, the 1930s series shows new vigour, bolder simplification and an experimentation with different media.
"I would not hesitate to give up painting if my ultimate expression must be achieved in another way," proclaimed Matisse. In La Danse de Paris, he abandoned the traditional oil on canvas and invented the new technique of using coloured paper cut-outs to put the finishing touches to his work. He used eleven flat-coloured gouache cut-outs forming the diagonal grounds (black/pink/dark blue) on which the grey figures are superimposed. Upon close inspection, you will see pinpricks near the bottom of the painting. These tiny holes were made when pieces of coloured paper were pinned to the canvas.
|Matisse, standing on a bench, working on The Unfinished Dance, 1931|
Matisse is also known for his draughtsmanship and unusual working method. He painted huge murals and canvases using a stick of charcoal attached to a bamboo cane. The simplicity of the lines - the fluid curves of the figures and dynamic vertical bands, as well as the use of a small number of colours in a large flat area were to become Matisse's unique style that he returned to later in his life.
It is rare that a piece of art gets a room to itself and La Danse de Paris certainly deserves the honour.