Poussin and the Dance at London's National Gallery October 9, 2021 - January 2, 2022


Poussin and the Dance Opens at London's National Gallery

Running from October 9 to January 2, 2022, the exhibition is the first examination of how Nicolas Poussin incorporated dance into his body of work — and it challenges the 17th-century French painter's legacy.

Nicolas Poussin is considered to be one of the old masters, an influential French Baroque painter who moved to Rome in the 1620s and embraced classicism. This fall, a new exhibition at the National Gallery will investigate how he incorporated another art form into his work, which may help to reframe opinions of his career. Poussin and the Dance features more than 20 of his paintings and drawings from public and private collections in Europe and the U.S., the most celebrated being Dance to the Music of Time, which is on loan from the Wallace Collection. Considered to be one of Poussin's most complex pieces — and one whose meaning is open to interpretation — Dance to the Music of Time appears to illustrate the perpetual cycle of the human condition through dancers symbolizing the succession of poverty, labor, wealth, and pleasure, which, in excess, circles back to poverty.

Poussin and the Dance strives to challenge prior interpretations of Poussin's work as cold and rigidly civilized. Through explorations of wild, raucous, and joyous scenes of dance and beguilement, this exhibition showcases how Poussin — who developed his own take on classicism — grappled with the challenges of arresting movement and capturing the body's expressive potential. 

Alongside the London exhibition is a series of film screenings that include dialogue and performances by three London-based contemporary artists who take viewers through the works featured in Poussin and the Dance. After closing in London on January 2, 2022, the exhibition will move to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where it can be viewed from February 15 to May 8.

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