From Thursday 1 April the painting Dance (1909-1910) by Henri Matisse will be included in the exhibition Matisse to Malevich. Pioneers of modern art from the Hermitage. Dance, which will be seen at the Hermitage Amsterdam
only until 9 May, has never previously been displayed in the Netherlands. It is one of the icons of art history and comes from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. It is rarely loaned out. Very recently the Ministry of Culture in Moscow gave permission for Dance to be loaned to the Hermitage Amsterdam for six weeks. This monumental painting, measuring 260 x 391 centimetres, is an important addition to the exhibition. Its innovative and unconventional design makes this a key work in Matisses oeuvre.
Throughout his life Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was inspired by the theme of the dance. He incorporated it in wood carvings, watercolour sketches, drawings in pencil and charcoal and even on vases. Before he painted the version that is now coming to Amsterdam, he made an earlier Dance (MoMA collection, New York). When Sergei Shchukin saw that painting, he commissioned from Matisse a similar work with the same imposing dimensions for his Moscow villa. Dance is the pendant of another painting, The music, which Shchukin also commissioned in 1909.
The composition of Dance is sober. Five nude women move round, stirred by a dance. Their pink bodies stand out against a green surface and a blue sky. Here Matisse opted for highly simplified form and colour. There are no shadows and hardly any suggestion of space. The figures and the background have become colour fields, which are all equally involved in the scene. Dance, so ground-breaking and unconventional in its day, is the most forceful and emphatic expression of French Fauvist painting.
The Turing Foundation soon proved ready to provide the funding to make the coming of Dance possible. This charitable fund was founded at the end of 2006 by Pieter and Francoise Geelen with the fortune they made from the launch of TomTom on the stock exchange. Since then this foundation has rapidly become a leading art financier.
To mark the arrival of Dance a 4-page supplement has been produced which will be added to the catalogue. This supplement is also available separately at the museum shop for 1 euro (in English and Dutch).
Matisse to Malevich. Pioneers of modern art from the Hermitage can be seen at the Hermitage Amsterdam until 18 September.