Picasso Part Two: The Three Dancers

The second instalment of the Picasso series focuses on the mind bending piece ‘The Three Dancers.’

Painted in 1925, this artwork is on display at the Tate Modern gallery and was featured in their landmark ‘Picasso 1932’ exhibition. At first glance, the image and title don’t seem to match in that it is not a conventional portrayal of dancers in delicate poses, but something all the more nightmareish and disturbing.

The Three Dancers by Picasso

Picasso’s painting shows three figures, in a joined union of dance in the foreground on a balcony. Yet there is a fourth figure, silhouetted eerily behind the right dancer. The leftmost figure appears disfigured and distorted seems horrifying and even violent; whilst the other two figures are more recognisable in form.

According to the Tate’s entry, whilst Picasso was working on this piece, his friend Ramon Pichot died. Years previously, Pichot fell in love with a woman called Germaine Gargallo. Sadly, one of Picasso’s closest friends, Carlos Casagemas, had also fallen in love with Germaine. Unable to cope with Germaine’s rejection and the pangs of unrequited love, Carlos fired a shot at Germaine before committing suicide by shooting himself. Ramon and Germaine married shortly after Carlos’s suicide.

For Picasso to paint this piece the year of Ramon’s death, could be Picasso recalling the tragic love triangle that ended in death. The rightmost figure is Ramon Pichot, the left figure is Germaine Gargallo and the central figure is Carlos Casagemas. The pose of Carlos is eerily similar to that of a crucifixion. His placement inbetween Germaine and Ramon could be seen as him being sacrificed between the two people who caused him the pain that led to suicide.

Germaine’s portrayal is distorted, horrifying and abnormally bent out of shape. The monstrous appearance and sharp jagged edges is almost demonic and something that should be feared and is dangerous. She joins hands with Ramon whilst Carlos is sacrificed between them. This portrayal is perhaps the artist viewing her as responsible for the death of his closest friend and the painting demonstrates violent emotions and pain.

‘The Three Dancers’ by Picasso is a poignant painting that intricately blends love, tragedy and friendship in an emotive and profound painting heavily laden with sentimentality.

Taking this tragic story into account it gives ‘The Three Dancers’ a heartfelt and moving dimension. To me, modern art has to be understood for it to be really appreciated. It is easy to dismiss a painting at first glance, but if time is taken to understand the theory and artist motivations behind it, all of a sudden the painting becomes more profound and takes on a new meaning.

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