Painted in Paris during early 1925, The Three Dancers is an oil on canvas painting measuring 84.8 inches x 56 inches.
By 1925 Picasso was sick of his dalliance with the bourgeois, which is where he found himself after moving away from cubism, and found himself attracted to a rather seditious artistic movement called surrealism.
Surrealism aimed to reject the rational vision of life in favour of one that is firmly grounded within dreams and the subconcious.
Artists of this movement sought out absurd beauty from within the unexpected and the unconventional. The Three Dancers appeared in a journal illustrating Andre Breton's manifesto surrealism and painting, the founder of the surrealist movement. The Three Dancers acts as Picasso's public confession of surrealism.
It is widely believed that The Three Dancers is Picasso's depiction of a chilling love triangle. The barely visable dancer on the right is thought to be Ramon Pichot, a friend of Picasso who died during the painting of The Three Dancers. This right hand figure is darker in pigment and barely visible as if it were cast into the shadows, however there is a glimmer of a realistic face behind the shadow.
The jagged and twisted form on the left is thought to be Pichot's wife Germaine Gargello. The face of the figure on the left hand side is said to be a death's head, her face has skull like features of empty eye sockets and a black hole for her nose. Carlos Casagemas was also Gargello's boyfriend and thought to be the centre figure.
Having fallen deeply in love with Gargello, spurned and having failed to shoot her Casagemas shot himself. This central figure is seen to be convulsed, with it's head raised and arms outstretched, there is room for interpretation as to whether it is a plea or in ecstasy. Twenty five years after the suicide, Pichot died and those memories were rekindled for Picasso supposedly leading to The Three Dancers as we know it today.
The widely popular theory about the subject matter of The Three Dancers being of a twisted love triangle within Picasso's life, would support the idea that the positioning of the three figures strongly evokes the theme of Crucifixion in marital conflict. Dancing is usually a joyous affirmation of life, but here alongside crucifixion imagery and skull like faces Picasso has turned it into a dance of death.
Some believe that the dissonance between Picasso and his wife, the former ballerina Olga Khokhlova, is the reason that the figures are depicted as almost convulsive puppets.
The Three Dancers marks the beginning of Picasso's decline into his disturbing depictions of the female form. Despite being involved with and interested in the surrealist movement he was never a fully signed up member of the surrealism movement. His level headed artistic response and uniqueness never quite fit in to the movements Freudian concepts of supremacy of the subconscious state.
Within The Three Dancers Picasso used jazz and rhythm to represent dance and portray the tone of his life and art at the time, similar to F Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age novel The Great Gatsby, published in April 1925 in which the tone has a similar cynical discontent.
The colours used are relatively bright, therefore at first glance it would seem as though the painting is of accomplished dancers, however upon further inspection and research it becomes clear that the dance the figures are partaking in is much more macabre. Upon first glance you may see a window leading onto a balcony in the background, but on further inspection some people find that the begin to see other imagery indicative of being imprisoned.
With a simple glance you could be mistaken for thinking that The Three Dancers was a spirited surrealist oil painting, full of vibrancy and joyous energy. However scratching under the surface you come to find a rather ambiguous painting much more macabre and lurid than is first visible. A homage to Picasso's friends who died twenty five years apart, but were twisted within the same love triangle. The Three Dancers is a representation of not only death but the events in his life, and not only that but a transition to a different style of painting altogether. This makes The Three Dancers a very significant work within Picasso's career.
The famous Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso, painted The Three Dancers, Les Trois Danseuses, in 1925. The oil on canvas painting was inspired after a vacation with his wife in Monte Carlo. His wife, Olga Khokhlova. was a ballet dancer.
It was during this time that Picasso was heavily into the Surrealism movement, orchestrated by fellow painter, André Breton. It was a year later, in 1926, that the painting was featured in Surrealism and Painting, Le surréalisme et la peinture by Andre Breton, which Picasso perceived as a huge professional achievement.
The bright and bold painting vibrantly depicts three dancers, mid movement, with the third dancer on the right of the canvas bathed in shadow and not entirely visible to the observer. The dance that is being observed appears almost to be macabre in nature, and violent, as the dancer to the left of the canvas has their head bent at a disturbing angle. It is widely assumed that the dancer on the right of the canvas was Ramon Pichot, a close friend to Picasso, who sadly passed away while Picasso created this painting. Other art critics also believe that the same dancer could be that of Picasso's wife. The dancer to the left of the canvas is believed to be Germaine Gargallo, Pichot’s wife. It is assumed that the dancer located in the middle, is that of Carlos Casagemas, friend to Pucasso and boyfriend to Gargallo.
It is these three individuals, depicted in this macabre and chilling 'dance' that Picasso painted in a tense 'love triangle'. Tragically, Gasagemas killed himself following the failed attempt to shoot dead Gargallo. Pichot died twenty-five years later.
The Three Dancers is a painting that explodes from the canvas in sheer energy. The jagged human forms on the canvas appear triangular in nature, further highlighting that the three dancers are all involved in a turbulent relationship. The dance that is depicted is pure energy, and exudes sexual tension.