Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The three dancers

I was quite impressed by this surrealistic painting by Picasso. I saw it in a visit to Tate Modern this weekend. It is part of the permanent exhibition, which you can visit for free.

Apparently this is one of Picasso's only surrealistic paintings. I was even more impressed when I read the interpretation given to the painting, which got me thinking how important is the context of any artwork to fully appreciate it.

Have a first look at the painting below without reading my explanation. Unfortunately I could not find a good quality picture on the web, so this one will have to do.

Do you make something of it ? I didn't think so.

Apparently Picasso started painting The Three Dancers in a period where the relation with his wife, Olga, who was a dancer, was degrading and soon after the death of a friend: Ramon Pichot. This death coincided with the anniversary of the suicide of another friend Carlos Casagemas. The two men were linked to each other by a woman: Germaine Gargallo, who was Pichot's wife, but also had been Casagemas' girlfriend and was the reason why Casagemas commited suicide, having failed to kill her after being rejected.

The picture is said to be all about this love triangle: the dancer on the right casts the shadow of Ramon Pichot, giving hands with the dancer on the left: his wife Germaine Gargallo. The red dot that the figure on the left seems to try to avoid by bending in an impossible way is thought to be the bullet with which Casagemas had tried to kill her. This makes the central dancer, with arms outstretched as if crucified, the ghost of the doomed Casagemas projected on the feminine figure of Picasso's wife, Olga.

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