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Artwork Review: Negro Dancer by Pablo Picasso
Posted by Kenny on 3/3/2009 3:36:29 PM (ET)
Filed Under: General
 
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Fascination with the forms and vitality of African tribal sculpture is evident here. Picasso has incorporated his own stylized version of a Congolese mask into an abstractly patterned composition that sweeps across and down the canvas in strongly accented rhythmic gyrations. The tones of sand and brown suggest the basketry supports with which these masks were often associated; the red slashings that delineate areas of the figure may also be an allusion to the dye applied to this sculpture.

Negro Dancer - Pablo Picasso

NEGRO DANCER (1907)
Oil on Canvas

One of Picasso’s lifelong preoccupations was with representing three-dimensional form convincingly on a two-dimensional surface. The conventions of African art served him as a perfect means of reconciling the sculptural with the pictorial. Thus he has taken over facial scarification marks to indicate planes of the cheeks, and the stylized form of nose and eye sockets to achieve plasticity on canvas.

With their emphasis on rendition of planes, their subdued colors and their distorted forms, this painting and the better-known Demoiselles d’Avignon of the same year—works of Picasso’s so-called Negro Period—are the direct forerunners of Cubism.

 
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