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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Paula Modersohn-Becker

b. 1876, Dresden, Germany; d. 1907, Worpswede, Germany

The artist Paula Modersohn-Becker produced an enormous body of work in her brief life. She studied at St. John’s Wood School of Art in London and at the School for Women Artists in Berlin. In 1898, she joined the Worpswede artist colony, near Bremen, where she met and married Otto Modersohn. She soon grew impatient with the sentimental naturalism of the Worpswede painters and in 1900 made the first of several trips to Paris, where she found inspiration in the works of Cézanne, Gauguin, and van Gogh. Gradually, over the next few years and further sojourns in Paris, she developed a style blending the lessons of French modernism, with its focus on simplification and abstraction, and her Germanic commitment to humanistic ideals. Throughout this period of artist exploration, Modersohn-Becker was continually hampered by her husband’s entreaties to remain in Worpswede. She returned in 1907 and died a few months later from complications following childbirth. Her diaries and letters were published in 1917.