Facebook Crosspost: 2020-June-6

Looking for inspiration for your “Portraits of the Pandemic” exhibition submission? What about some inspiration from art history?

Featured Historic Self Portrait: Paula Modersohn-Becker

German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) was best known for her expressionistic self-portraits, scenes of children with their mothers, and brooding landscapes. Painted in luminous colors and crude brushstrokes, her works were inspired by Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. Modersohn-Becker was one of the first German artists to work in a style that became known as Expressionism.

Modersohn-Becker made numerous self-portraits, in countless variations. She was likely the first modern woman artist to have painted nude self-portraits.

Despite selling only three paintings during her lifetime, her distinct style, perseverance in overcoming considerable barriers to women artists, and daring subject matter made her an artist few could ignore. Undaunted by the scant recognition she received, she felt she had made a leap forward with her large-scale nudes and self-portraits, writing that through this highly personal body of work, “I will make something of myself.”

One of her last paintings, Self-Portrait with Two Flowers in Her Raised Left Hand (1907), was painted while she was pregnant. Later that year, she died of complications just 20 days after giving birth to a daughter. She was 31 years old.

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