1889-90; Oil on Canvas, 66 1/8 x 55 1/2 in; Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo
A frenzied gesticulation suddenly invades Seurat's art in the final two years of his life. Seurat studied and collected Jules Cheret's posters, and their compositional form is felt in Le Chahut. The curled mustache repeated in the dancer's turned-up lips, the decorations and ribbons on the dancers' shoulders and shoes, the strange similarity of male and female legs, everything here expresses the taste for peculiar detail.
This exuberance, however, does not conceal the extreme rigor of the composition. Seurat inscribes his network of diagonals on a regular geometrical background. A figure in the foreground stabilizes the composition, as one does in The Circus. Between background and foreground breaks occur. Seurat arranges in the intermediary space of Le Chahut a series of arc-shaped curves created by the dancers legs. ``Monsieur Seurat'' wrote Felix Feneon in 1889, ``knows very well that a line, independent of its representational role, has an appraisable abstract value.''