Balletscene was created during Giersing’s experimental period in 1917–1921 and is the last major work by the artist from the years around the First World War. With intense colours and a simple expression, it demonstrates Giersing’s central position in the Danish art scene at this time.

Inspiration from the avant-garde of dance

With influence from several international avant-garde trends, including Cubism, Fauvism and German Expressionism, this period in Giersing’s practice focused mainly on the topics of football (soccer) and dance. Balletscene further reflects Giersing’s fascination with the modern Russian style of ballet; a fascination he shared with several other contemporary avant-garde artists.

Fokin and Fokina

The painting depicts Mikhail Fokin and Vera Fokina, husband and wife and both modern Russian ballet performers. Mikhail Fokin in particular played a key role in reforming the ballet, both as a dancer and as a choreographer. Giersing attended the premiere when the sensational ballet couple performed at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen on 12 May 1918. Characteristically of Giersing’s practice, however, the painting is not based on his live observations but on the black and white photo that was published in the Danish newspaper Politiken in connection with the premiere.

Colourful simplification

The painting only depicts the main figures from the newspaper photo and replaces their material setting with a monochrome red background. This liberation of the featured subjects from their static environment creates an effect of motion. 

The couple’s pale pink and cold blue colour tones stand in stark contrast to the blood-red background. The result is a decorative expression that marks the culmination of Giersing’s coloristic experimentation. Along with the artist’s sketch for the decoration of the residence of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters from 1925, Balletscene was Giersing’s last piece in this style.

Balletscene was acquired with support from the New Carlsberg Foundation, the Augustinus Foundation and Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansen Fonden.