Sunday ka Funda

"Most days it feels as if the world is whirling around me and I am standing still. In slow motion, I watch the colors blur; people and faces all become a massive wash."
- Sarah Kay

When I posted the sidebar image, I also found another one by Henri Matisse called Still Life with Dance. I was immediately struck, not so much by the painting as by the title. Dance is movement and fluidity; still life is, well, still. How and why did they come together.

I have been looking at it frequently, and the more I look the more I find the dance to be still and the still objects to appear moving. The flowers  seem to almost quiver, and the fruits glisten with new dew.

Naturally, then, I'd say the same about all that happens in life too. The moving and the static can interchange at any time.


  1. Hi Farzana,

    Wikipedia suggests Matisse's favoured approach as “painterly,” which is contrasted with works rendered in a “linear” style. Apparently the so-called linear painter strives for a more true-to-life, 3-dimensional depiction in the application of paint (more “studied,” it would seem); whereas the painterly artist's subjects are roughly defined, the application of paint . . . well, “slap-dash,” perhaps, with the colors employed not a little fanciful. The effect, I think, is to strongly suggest the work as “saying” more than, say, a Mona Lisa smile . . .

    Cezanne is suggested as having had the profoundest influence on Matisse. However, where the Dance is concerned, I have to go along with those who compare it to William Blake's depiction of a scene from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, also known as Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing, here:


    Though Matisse's earlier work, Le bonheur de vivre, makes the connection much more compelling:


    Here is another version of his still-life with dancing studies, Nasturtiums with the Dance II:


    As with the one you provide, there is indeed room to suppose the eponymous “still-life” of fruits and flowers might be shown to have been supplanted as objects of study by the dance – and, indeed, the fruits and flowers foregrounded in yours might be seen to be critically appraising the canvas in the background, the none-too-usual amphorae-like handles Matisse provides the flower vases suggestive of a figure's indignant hands-on-hips; the fruits prostrate, rolling about the table, hard-pressed to conclude anything from their vantage (and thus perhaps accounting for their “glisten of new dew,” lol); whereas, in Nasturtiums, the dance is portrayed upon a wall and the foregrounded still-life becomes a squat, handle-less, globular pot with curling nasturtium stems spilling out of an abruptly tapered, narrowed end, moved to the middle-ground, and centrally placed atop a three-legged platform apparently designed to be raised higher or lower by mechanical means. Spun, perhaps; or raised and lowered notch-by-notch.

    How and why did they come together? Well, in that I too find Matisse's Dance (beginning with Le bonheur de vivre) to allude to Blake's depiction of dancing fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, I'll hazard it has something to do with four nights of pomp, triumph, and revelries. :)


  2. Hi Mark:

    Indeed, there is world of difference between the linear and the painterly.

    {The effect, I think, is to strongly suggest the work as “saying” more than, say, a Mona Lisa smile}

    But Mona Lisa, with all the linearity, has given rise to a whole lot of painterly analysis!

    Illuminating to read about the comparisons re this work, for I certainly am not so knowledgeable about the works of either. I'd agree with you on Blake, but Bonheur seems not quite like the Dance series. It is erotic, although in a pastoral sense.

    I absolutely loved Nasturtiums. Your description is rather vivid. It so happened that when I opened the link on my tab only the top half was visible initially and I thought the figure above seemed reminiscent of Christ on the Cross. I scrolled down and the portion directly below — the stool's legs, the reddish bit — look like an upturned Cross! It was not even Good Friday when I first saw this, so don't know where the reference comes from...

    That was not the end. The two figures in the lower half with their fingers reaching out look a lot like da Vinci's The Creation of Adam.

    I suppose, as we have had occasion to discuss often, art and perception are comrades even if sometimes contradictory. Let me leave with these from A Midsummer Night's Dream:

    "Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
    That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow."


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