Paula Modersohn-Becker

Paula Modersohn-Becker


Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) is best known as one of first women to paint female nudes.   A German painter and very important early expressionist, She is credited for the introduction of modern painting and used tempera almost exclusively.

In a brief career, cut short by an embolism at the age of 31, she created a number of groundbreaking images of great intensity. She is becoming recognized as the first female painter to paint female nudes. Using bold forays into subject matter and chromatic color choices, she and fellow-artists Picasso and Matisse introduced the world to modernism at the start of the twentieth century.

Self Portrait Paula Modersohn-Becker
Self Portrait Paula Modersohn-Becker

From 1893 to 1895, Becker received private instruction in painting, while in 896 she took a course offered by the“Verein der Berliner Künstlerinnen” (Union of Berlin Female Artists),  which offered art studies to women.  She also studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1907).  She loved the work of Cezanneand the post-impressionists such as Van Gogh and Gaughan.

Her correspondance shows that she delayed having children so she could pursue her art career.  It is a sad irony that child birth not only ended her career but her life as well.



Clara Rilke Westhoff, Paula Modersohn-Becker, 1905

Becker studied in Paris in 1900 the Academie Colaross in the Latin Quarter.  After a pregnancy she had leg pain and the doctor ordered bed rest.  She got up after 18 days and died shortly after from an embolism at the age of 31.

In 1898 she joined the artistic community of Worpswede, getting to know artists such as Fritz Mackensen and Heinrich Vogeler, and joined the protest against the art acedemy. She studied under Mackensen, painting farmers and landscape.  Until Becker started to do so. female painters had not widely used nude females.  




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