The museum owns 22 works by Matisse (paintings, graphic works, one ceramic, a sculpture and several illustrated books) including the two monumental Dance triptychs (1931-1932) initially created for Dr Barnes’ foundation in Merion, near Philadelphia: The Incomplete Dance was “rediscovered” in 1992; one panel (donated in lieu of inheritance duty) was placed in storage by the National Museum of Modern Art, the two others panels others were bought with exceptional assistance from the City of Paris. The Dance, known as The Dance of Paris was bought in early 1937 directly from the artist.
The “Warrior” Dance of Paris, 1931-1933, designed using 11 flat-coloured gouache cut-outs forming the diagonal grounds (black/pink/dark blue) on which the cement-grey bodies of the nymphs stand out, was abandoned in the spring of 1932 because of an error made when calculating the springing of the arches in the Barnes Foundation. The composition designed in this way in its transitional form with a series of gouache cut-outs from the original “easel” version of The Dance pinned onto it would be painted onto new canvases almost a year later and finished in November 1933. The final “Dionysian” version, composed directly onto canvas with gouache, presents in its central panel figures which are twin versions of those in The Dance of Paris, but laid out differently. The painter had wanted to change the treatment, number (8) and grouping of the dancers. This version was finally installed in Merion in May 1933.
On the occasion of the 1937 International Exhibition for Art and Technology in Modern Life and with the acquisitions budget available to the organisers, Raymond Escholier, curator of the collections at the Petit Palais, which would form the Museum of Modern Art, acquired the work which was in storage in Nice for 95,000 francs. Numerous plans and letters exchanged between the two men bear witness to the painter’s enthusiasm to see his Dance exhibited as an architecture of colours.
11 avenue du Président Wilson
Tél : 01 53 67 40 00
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Late opening on Thursdays until 10pm (exhibitions only).
Permanent collection : free access
Metro Alma-Marceau or Iéna
RER C Pont de l'Alma
Bus 32, 42, 63, 72, 80, 92
Vélib' (self-service cycle hire) station: 2 rue Marceau