“I am Me, and hope to become this more and more.”
Paula Modersohn-Becker(1876-1907) to Rainer Maria Rilke 1906
I was lucky to be in Bremen, Germany yet again in November of 2019 just in time to see the newest exhibit of Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Self-Portraits at the museum dedicated to her there in the Museen Böttcherstrasse.
What a fortuitous opportunity it was to be there while this exhibit was showing. So many paintings I had never seen, in a book or in a museum, were on display, many of them from private collections.
For those who do not know, in 1906, Modersohn-Becker “created the first nude self-portrait by a woman in the history of art” (exhibit brochure). Her work is ground breaking and world making, yet remains unknown to most.
~Paula Modersohn-Becker in a letter, 1898
What was so fabulous about this particular exhibit was to be able to see the breadth of self-portraits that she completed and some of the photos she took of herself to work from. This was exceptional for a woman of that time. This display of conscious intention contributes to the understanding that Modersohn-Becker was deliberate and ambitious about what she set out to do. She accomplished it effectively.
The paintings are alive and stunning. They are a conversation, an intimate experience with the mind and psyche of the artist.
Thanks to the excellent camera on my new phone, I am able to include some of my favorite paintings from the exhibit here.
I was intrigued by the very large hands in many of these self-portraits. Without doing any research as to the interpretations of others, I feel they are symbols of power. The power of the hands of a woman. The power of Paula’s hands as she created these images, the power to say so much, with the hands.
I was even able to create my own self-portrait in a room set up by the museum.
~Theresa C Dintino 2019