Alain de Botton at The Wall Street Journal:
When Henri Matisse shows us an ideal image of women linking hands in solidarity and joy in “The Dance,” he doesn't wish to deny the troubles of the planet. He wants to encourage our optimism, knowing that it is hard to nurture and maintain.
A beautiful, though partial, vision can be all the more precious to us because we are so aware of how rarely life goes as we would like it to. We should be able to enjoy Matisse's dancers without fear that we are thereby complicit in a dangerous delusion. If the world were a kinder place, perhaps we would be less impressed by, and in need of, pretty works of art.
One of the strangest features of experiencing art is its power, occasionally, to move us to tears, not when we are presented with a harrowing or terrifying image, but when we see a work of particular grace and loveliness. Matisse's dancers might do this to us.