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Gino Severini

/Works and biography

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Blue Dancer (Ballerina blu), 1912
Oil on canvas with sequins, 61 x 46 cm
Gianni Mattioli Collection
Long-term loan to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
© Gino Severini, by SIAE 2008


The dance was one of Gino Severini's favourite themes, and was emotively tied to the café life in Paris, where dance halls and cabarets were numerous and much frequented by artists and writers. Severini painted the Blue dancer together with The White Dancer (Civico Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Collezione Jucker, Milan) in the second quarter of 1912, in his Paris studio in the Impasse Guelma, where Georges Braque also lived.
1912 was the year Severini came to terms with the Cubism of his friends Pablo Picasso and Braque, using it specifically as a means of expressing movements, which was his chief concern at the time. The effect of movement is in part created by the fusion of the figure with her surroundings by the penetration of light. Flickering light was rendered dazzlingly by the application of real sequins to the canvas in the areas corresponding to the dress. The immediate inspiration for this was the collage practiced in the previous months by Braque and Picasso, but Severini attributed the idea to a conversation with Apollinaire, who alerted him to the habit of early Italian painters who encrusted their paintings with precious stones and even wooden objects.
It is likely that Severini intended that this should be a variation on Futurist ideas or pictorial iconography.

credits: Hangar Design Group