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Paula Modersohn-Becker

Paula Modersohn-Becker

*  1876 Dresden-Friedrichstadt
† 1907 Worpswede

Paula Modersohn-Becker was born in Dresden-Friedrichstadt on February 8, 1876. In 1888 her family moves to Bremen. Paula travels to London in 1892, where she takes drawing classes at the School of Arts. Having returned to Bremen, she completes her teaching studies from 1893 to 1895. She takes further classes and feels the inner urge to live as an artist, however, facing strong opposition from those around her. But yet, Paula Modersohn-Becker goes to Berlin where she attends the drawing school of the Verein Berliner Künstlerinnen (Berlin Female Artists Association) as of 1896. She moves to Worpswede in 1897 and takes classes with Fritz Mackensen. A small artists colony is founded in Worpswede in 1899, with artists such as Fritz Mackensen, Hans Am Ende, Fritz Overbeck, Heinrich Vogeler and Otto Modersohn. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke also visits Worpswede regularly. Clara Westhoff becomes a very close friend of Paula Modersohn-Becker.
In 1900 she travels to Paris for the first time where she is strongly impressed by the painting of the modern artists, most of all by Vincent van Gogh, who Paula Modersohn-Becker regards as an idol.
In 1901 she marries the painter Otto Modersohn in Worpswede. Over the following years she visits Paris for three longer stays during which she once attends the exhibition of Paul Gauguin in the Salon d'Automne in 1905. His bright colors and simple forms encourage her a great deal.
Paula Modersohn struggles to find her very own style all throughout her artist life. She cuts her own path, determined and regardless of all incomprehension and all adversaries, who scorn her and her life as an artist as unnatural, worthless and without talent. Paula Modersohn-Becker's first exhibition in the Bremen Kunsthalle is completely savaged by critics. But she keeps up painting, picture by picture, seeking her own great style.
The marriage with Otto Modersohn is not always easy. He observes his wife's artistic ambitions and her apparent failures, however, he gives her the freedom to carry on, despite suffering under her lengthy stays in Paris and the financial burden. Otto Modersohn already has a child before he marries Paula, who longs to have a child of her own. Finally, in 1907, she gives birth to a daughter, who dies shortly after birth in Worpswede on November 20, 1907.
Paula Modersohn-Becker's artist career is suddenly interrupted. Today she is regarded as one of the most important and most expressive artists of the 20th century, whose style already hints at Expressionism from an early point on.