Paula Modersohn-Becker: Five things you need to know about this German Expressionist painter

German expressionist became one of the first women to paint depictions of nude female figures

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 08 February 2018 17:32
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Google Doode: Paula Modersohn-Becker’s 142nd Birthday

Today’s Google Doodle is celebrating the life of German expressionist artist Paula Modersohn-Becker.

Although not as widely known as contemporaries Pablo Picasso or Henri Matisse, Ms Modersohn was one of the most important representatives of early expressionism.

Here are five things to know about her:

She was one of the first female artists to use nude women as subjects

Moderson-Becker became renowned for her depictions of nude female figures. She was among the first female artists to use nude women as subjects.

She was also known for her paintings of women breastfeeding their children.

She also produced portraits of her friends, such as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and Werner Sombart.

Her distinctive style was achieved by scratching into the wet paint.

She was prolific but sold only three paintings

She led a turbulent yet prolific life. In 1906 alone, she produced more than 80 pictures.

Her diary from the time explains away her frenetic pace as a necessity to make up for what felt were the first two “lost” decades of her life.

However, she sold just three paintings in her lifetime.

Her career was cut short

Modersohn-Becker’s career was cut short when she died from a postpartum embolism at the age of 31.

After giving birth to her daughter, she began to complain of pain in her legs and was advised to remain in bed.

Nineteen days later, her physician advised her to attempt to rise.

She walked a few steps then sat down and called for her daughter Mathilde to be placed in her arms.

After complaining once more of leg pain, she died, saying only: “What a pity.”

Her home was opened as a museum

Her house in Bremen, where she spent much of her life, was restored in time for the 100th anniversary of her death.

In November 2007, it was turned as a public museum – the first in the world devoted to a female artist.

A friend wrote a poem in her memory

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote the poem “Requiem for a Friend” in 1908.

“Do not return. If you can bear to, stay dead with the dead. The dead have their own tasks,” the poem concludes.

“But help me, if you can without distraction, as what is farthest sometimes helps: in me.”

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