How to paint a feeling

henri matisse the dance

Some things are classic for a reason. You’re looking at The Dance by Henri Matisse, 1910 – a painting you’ve likely seen a thousand times, as have I, yet it never seems boring to me.

I love the life in this painting, the energy in the dance despite the flat surfaces of the background and simplified bodies of the dancers. I also love that you can’t really tell the gender of the dancers, and that it doesn’t matter. The same goes for the ambiguity of the setting.

Matisse depicts a feeling rather than a specific scene, and I think that’s what makes this painting so eternal.

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