Matisse’s The Dance and Dance I are two important paintings from the career of this famous French modernist artist who was best remembered for the bright colours used in many of his paintings. The two works are very similar with Dance I being a preparation painting for the second version which followed just a year later in 1910. Both depict dancing characters in an uplifting friendship which was a highly unusual topic for any artist at this time. Many have compared it to a classic Blake painting from over a century earlier but it is unknown as to whether this had influenced Matisse’s own paintings.
The two versions vary only in the amount of detail used by the artist on each of the dancers, plus in the hue and saturation of colours that Matisse chose. The preparatory painting used subtler tones but still gave a finish that he was delighted with, which is why the final piece was so similar as he did not see many avenues for improvement, just concentrating on adding more vivid colours on both the dancers plus the neutral backgrounds behind them. Matisse used paintings such as Dance to build a reputation as an artist who is amongst the most skilled an innovative artist to have come from France during a period where it was the most influential country with Europe for all contemporary art movements. Matisse will always be best remembered for bold colour choices that always worked as well as a desire to develop art ideas onwards rather than remaining with the status quo.
Besides his Dance series, famous Henri Matisse paintings included Woman Reading, Le Mur Rose, Notre-Dame, une fin d’après-midi, Interior A Nice, Odalisque with Raised Arms, Yellow Odalisque, The Plum Blossoms and Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire. Matisse is a hugely popular artist within the mainstream art public nowadays and his paintings are particularly common as reproductions art prints, stretched canvases, posters and in some cases, handmade oil paintings.
In conclusion we can be sure that the Dance series of paintings by Matisse were amongst his most original and memorable set of works and feature prominently within his career story which has gained much exposure in recent years despite the artist struggling for attention and academic acceptance during his own lifetime which was characterised by the typical struggles that so many talented artists have had to endure due to the innovation of their work or difficulties in even getting their work seen by leading academics.