Matisse and the Dance

I like this work for several reasons, primarily its formal qualities. I like the emphasis on line, shape and colour. Its simple but complementary colour scheme of red and green appeals to me. I prefer this scheme to the more realistic one painted a year earlier. His style is straightforward, however, with no unnecessary detail or device distracting from the circle composition and the dancer’s form.

Dance by Matisse

The individuals have no identity, no character. One feels lost in the movement. Dancing is like that is losing yourself to that feeling of momentum, lost in the whirl of sensation and joy. The figure’s red colour suggests vigour; dancing gets the blood flowing.

When we dance, make art, or engage in other activities, we become less self-conscious, more relaxed, and carefree; that’s what I see in this work.
It’s also ambiguous. Is it a hill they are dancing on with the sky behind or a small patch of grass next to the water?

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