The dynamic movements of the dancing figure in Danseur Classique N. 2. demonstrate one of the central motifs of Gino Severini's oeuvre: dance. What is at once striking about this phantasmal gouache is the immense variety of jewel mosaic-like dabs of colour painted within a series of geometric, interlocking, abstract forms. The dynamic movements of the dancer captured skilfully. Dance had originally inspired Severini during his early years in Paris, with the artist experiencing first-hand the heady atmosphere of the city's dance culture, played out across the cafés, dancehalls and nightclubs of the buzzing metropolis. Through these experiences he came to realise that the dynamism and energy of the modern could be found not only in the innovations of technology and machines, but also in the frenetic actions of the human body in motion, as it participated in new dance crazes such as the Argentine Tango, the Pan-Pan and the Bear Dance.
In the 1950s Severini returned, not only to this theme of dance and the dancer, but also the techniques of Futurism and its subjects which had been central to his work from the beginning of 1911, until 1915 when he moved towards Neo-Classicism. He had also become inspired by his own daughter's studies of classical ballet, moving away from the fashionable dances he had previously depicted and began to illustrate the timelessly elegant pirouettes and arabesques of the ballerina – twirling elegantly beneath the electric lights of the stage.
In Danseur Classique N. 2., Severini presents to us an abstracted vision of the ballet dancer, by fracturing her silhouette into a series of vibrantly coloured geometric shapes as they radiate outwards from the centre of the composition. The shapes are arranged in a complex assemblage of interpenetrating volumes and lines, each filled by a detailed pattern of highly pigmented dots reminiscent of the Neo-Impressionists, and in particular the pointillist techniques of Georges Seurat. In his own words Severini explained how colour enabled him to 'express the true rhythm of the universe' and it quickly became a central aspect of his compositions (Severini, quoted in "Severini's Socks or the Dancing Colours," by John Gage, in Gino Severini, The Dance 1909-1916, exh. cat. Venice, 2011, p. 40).
This lively and enchanting gouache from 1958 with its effusive, bright colour palette truly captures a sense of the joyful energy that emanates from the dancer during her performance. Reaching far beyond literal representation, Danseur Classique N. 2., serves as a visual encapsulation of dynamism, simultaneity, and of modernity itself and it comes as no surprise that several years later the work was selected for Severini’s first posthumous retrospective at the Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne, in Paris.