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Danseuse au café (Dancer in a Café)

Jean Metzinger (French, 1883–1956). Danseuse au café (Dancer in a Café), 1912. Oil on canvas, 57 1/2 x 45 inches (146.1 x 114.3 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; General Purchase Funds, 1957 (1957:1). © Estate of Jean Metzinger / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

© Estate of Jean Metzinger / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Jean Metzinger / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Jean Metzinger / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Jean Metzinger

French, 1883-1956

Danseuse au café (Dancer in a Café), 1912

oil on canvas

support: 57 1/2 x 45 inches (146.05 x 114.3 cm); framed: 63 x 50 5/8 x 3 1/2 inches (160.02 x 128.59 x 8.89 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

General Purchase Funds, 1957


Collection Highlight

More Details


signature, undated / lower left / Metzinger


Possibly acquired from the artist by Albert Gleizes [1881-1953], Paris;
to Robert Lebel [1904-1986], Paris;
1955 or 1956, sold by Lebel to Sidney Janis Gallery, New York;
January 11, 1957, sold by Sidney Janis Gallery to the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo



Work Type

Oil painting

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Verbal Description Audio

Jean Metzinger

Danseuse au Café

Oil on canvas made in 1912

This artwork is almost five feet tall by four feet wide. This painting is visually busy and seems to be composed of mostly varying lengths of diagonal lines going in multiple directions. There are splashes of bold colors like ocean blue, violet, golden yellow, and ruby red but large remaining portions are fluctuating shades of grey and brown. One of the most distinct portions is that of small black diamonds stacked directly on top of each other on a strip of white edged with gold. This vertical strip exists roughly in the center of the right third of the painting. To the left is a shade of ocean blue. When focus is given to this vibrant blue, which eventually fades to a charcoal grey, it is evident that a slightly curved vertical line defines the outside edge of a floor length dress worn by a tall slender female figure whose face appears at the top of the painting. While fluctuating diagonal lines continue to intersect almost every aspect of this figure defining features appear.

This tall figure occupies the majority of the ride side, to the left sit four additional figures. After describing the five total figures the background will be explained.

On the top right side a head tilts toward the left. The top of the head is covered with cinnamon brown curls and the suggestion of a pink polka dot bow. A short bright red curve shows closed lips, an angled chin and a slender neck. A white short sleeve top with a v-neck ends with an empire waist. The same black diamond on white pattern described earlier defines the waste and opens to a white flowing floor length dress. The figure’s left arm curves slightly and is held at her side. Her right arm crosses in front of her torso and holds an elaborate bouquet of flowers. Only small portions of the flowers are realistically rendered and consist mostly of varied geometric shapes and pale shade of grass green, pale purple, white, brown, and shades of creamy yellow. Below the bouquet is the woman’s right leg extended forward with a pointed foot. She wears a golden shoe similar to a ballerina or dancer.

At the center of the work, just to the left of the dancer, is a collection of glasses with brown and yellow colored liquids. Behind the glasses are two tall bottles all of which rest on a small circle table top. No table legs are visible but to the left of the glasses is a seated female figure. Her face is turned toward the dancer and a violet portion of color fades to blue in a vertical motion similar to a feather in a hat. Her right shoulder and arm drapes over the back of a red chair. Her left arm is bent and resting on her lap. An ornate cream colored lace pattern defines the wide edges of the three quarter arms and collar of a pale grey dress. To the slight upper right of this woman’s face is a man whose black tie and top hat are faintly visible. To his immediate left, just behind the seated woman’s violet hat is the profile of a woman’s face who also wears a large colorful hat. The upward moving color on hers is a golden yellow that fades to a bright sun yellow. Below her chin and behind the seated woman in the front is a small red and grey checkered pattern which may be the dress of the woman with the yellow hat.  Just past this vibrant yellow and to the right is a masculine face looking toward the left side of the painting. He wears a black bowtie and black top hat.

In the background at the top of the painting are a handful of circular lights. There is one behind the tallest man, one in the upper right hand corner of the painting and a cluster of three in the middle at a distance. Each is supported by a curved, brown or black wall mounted light fixture.

The remainder of the painting, which lays mostly at the outer most edges of the painting are portions of space that are defined by the constantly occurring diagonals. At the edges the diagonal lines have more space in between revealing spaces of mostly brown and grey. The color in these spaces is concentrated at one side and gradual lightens through the use of a faint mottled texture.

The artist’s signature is inscribed at the very bottom edge just to the left of center.

Information may change due to ongoing research.Glossary of Terms

Between 1911 and 1914, Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger continued the development of the Cubist movement Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso initiated just a few years prior. In 1912, Gleizes and Metzinger published the influential “Du Cubisme,” which was the first major treatise on the subject. However, unlike Braque and Picasso, Metzinger was not as concerned with pursuing the pictorial implications of breaking-up form and space, and he remained closer to a faithful representation of the subject. Dancer in a Café captures the social mood and tempo of Paris prior to World War I (1914–18). This painting also testifies to Metzinger’s awareness of the Italian Futurists, who were exhibiting in the city during the time this work was created. The jerky staccato motion suggested by the dancing figure, which was new to Metzinger’s work, reflects the influence of the movement. In particular, he looked to the work of Gino Severini, who made several dancer and café studies in 1911 and 1912.

Label from Picasso: The Artist and His Models, November 5, 2016–February 19, 2017

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