The Tragedy of Picasso’s Dancing Trio

There’s nothing I love better in this weather than strolling to some of my favourite galleries and museums to take in from some wonderful art. During a recent trip to Tate Modern, I was inspired to write about one of my favourite modern art paintings.2014-04-05 16.59.22

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.

Picasso’s painting shows a distorted figure and two other more conventional 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 painting doesn’t portray a conventional image of dancers. Instead of traditional representations of delicate poses and classic dances, the picture is chaotic which is heightened by the figure on the left who appears disfigured in a distressing pose and characteristics that resemble something horrifying and disturbed.

This painting is in fact loaded with love, lust and death and personal emotions of the artist regarding the love triangle between his friends and fellow Spanish painters Ramon Pichot, Carlos Casagemas and a female friend of Picasso’s called Germaine.

Turn of the century Paris was the setting for the unprecedented and dramatic tale of love and tragedy. Pichot and Casagemas accompanied Picasso on his first extended trip to the French capital and it was here that Casagemas met and fell deeply in love with Picasso’s friend Germaine. Casagemas’s love however was an unrequited one. Germaine turned Casagemas down and began a relationship with Pichot instead. Unable to cope with the rejection and pangs of unrequited love, Casagemas fired a shot at Germaine and then tragically committed suicide. Shortly after his death, Germaine and Pichot married.

The turbulent scenario and its associated emotions come to the fore in Picasso’s painting. The furthermost right figure is that of Pichot, whilst the distorted figure on the left is Germaine. She has been given a monstrous appearance with sharp jagged teeth and a disjointed figure. The almost demonic portrayal of Germaine is that of something that should be feared and poses a danger to men.

This portrayal is perhaps the artist viewing her as responsible for the death of Casagemas who is shown as the central figure with his arms raised above his head. The pose he is in, whilst being a dance position, is also eerily similar to that of a crucifixion. His placement alongside Pichot and Germaine could be seen as him being sacrificed between the two people who caused him the pain that led to suicide.

Taking this tragic story into account it gives 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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