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Paula Modersohn-Becker: The First Modern Woman Artist

Paula Modersohn-Becker: The First Modern Woman Artist

By Diane Radycki

“Masterful. Diane Radycki provides a persuasive and revelatory argument for the title of her book pronouncing Paula Modersohn-Becker as “The First Modern Woman Artist.” There is no book I know of that has as keen a cutting edge into the artist’s motivations while at the same time placing her convincingly as an important early 20th-century “modern” woman artist. Her short life and growing posthumous fame are brilliantly juxtaposed.”―Alessandra Comini

“Radycki makes a convincing case for seeing Paula Modersohn-Becker as the first modern woman artist. . . . Readers of this monograph therefore should be anyone interested in modern art, women artists, the profoundly new art of Modersohn-Becker, and the heady ferment of the times in which she lived and worked. . . .”―Art New England

“This book elegantly reveals its subject’s life and work; recommended for anyone interested in German Expressionism and women artists.”―Library Journal, starred review

Considered one of the most important of the early German modernists, the painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907) challenged traditional representations of the female body in art. She was the first modern woman artist to paint herself nude, as well as mothers and children nude. She also created the first self-portrait while pregnant in the history of art. Modersohn-Becker painted the life she was living as a woman and artist and led the way for generations of women artists. Tragically, her life and career were cut short at age thirty-one, following complications from childbirth.

Diane Radycki examines the artist’s fascinating biography, highlighting her friendships with poet Rainer Maria Rilke and sculptor Clara Rilke-Westhoff as well as her personal anguish, including years in an unconsummated marriage, a disappointing affair, and irresolution about motherhood. Radycki also details the genres of Modersohn-Becker’s work: figure (especially nudes), still life, and landscape; and the reception of her work following her death. This new book is an authoritative source on Modersohn-Becker, who Radycki convincingly portrays as the first significant woman artist in the history of modernism.

256 pages
Yale University Press, 2013
8 x 10.5 inches
ISBN 9780300185300
Artist Monograph, Painting, Woman Artist 

$65.00 $65.00