IV. From Dance to the Danced Gesture

IV. From Dance to the Danced Gesture

A lover of village dances and social events, Picasso danced all his life. In some photographs, he can be seen having fun, attempting a clumsy leg lift in the middle of the street, or trying out a dance move with Jacqueline Roque, his last muse. That said, could this affinity with the danced movement have influenced his artistic practice?
The series of photographs taken by Gjon Mili for Life magazine in August 1949 provides some answers. Using a light pen, Mili invited Picasso to do ethereal drawings. Consisting of an unbroken line of light, each pattern is fixed to the film owing to a very long exposure time. Sometimes, a succession of flashes captures different stages of the artist's gestures – his body appears to be turning in several directions at once, just like a cubist painting.
Picasso had been experimenting with this continuous line technique since the late 1900s – once the tip of his pencil had been placed on the paper it did not leave it until the drawing was finished. Between 1917 and 1924, the artist used this technique once again, resulting in the "curvilinear style" of Mercure. But Mili's idea constituted a major innovation – this time, the outline took shape in a three-dimensional space. With his sweeping arm movements, his limbs stretching to their maximum range, Picasso's body seems to be projected into a sphere to create an image with volume. His movements – if only fleetingly – in a way become those of a dancer, immortalized by the photographic work, like a sketch of dance notation.  

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