Paula Modersohn-Becker
German, 1876-1907
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Collected by major museums
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Selected exhibitions
2016
Paula Modersohn-Becker: An Intensely Artistic Eye,
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
2014
Paula Modersohn-Becker,
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
2012
Der nackte Mann,
Lentos Kunstmuseum

A pioneer of modern art in Europe and the first woman to paint a full-length nude self-portrait, Paula Modersohn-Becker favored simple forms and complex textures created by scratching into sculpted paint on canvas. Modersohn-Becker trained under Fritz Mackensen in the Worpswede artists’ colony, alongside artists such as Heinrich Vogeler and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke. Her unique visual language—a synthesis of post-impressionist styles balancing French formalism with a German aesthetic—is marked by humanistic representations of local villagers. Drawn to the vibrant Parisian art culture, Modersohn-Becker was influenced by artists like Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, as well as by classical painting. Modersohn-Becker’s nude self-portrait, painted just prior to her death, had no precedent—male or female—and celebrated the female body in a straightforward, unembellished manner.

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