77 cm x 64 cm (30 5/16 in. x 25 3/16 in.)
(Borisoglebsk, Russia, 1899 - 1974, New York City)
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1970
Rather than focusing on the performance or practice of dance, as his mentor Edgar Degas before him, Moses Soyer chooses a still moment. The eye first catches the two standing figures, whose striped shirt and pink leotard draw our attention. Differences in the height of the figures and the draped props emphasize the right edge of the painting, where a seated figure slouches in a corner.
This dancer, excluded from the conversation, splays her legs in dejection or fatigue. The abstracted sheet of tinted background diminishes her. She doesn’t even have the energy to correct her fallen strap. Bodies and objects are blocked from clear view, by darkened colors, shadowed faces, crossed arms, a back to the viewer.
Moses Soyer’s version of American society in 1942 expresses weariness and melancholy, perhaps a response to decades of depression and world war.