AdaSue Myers ’11
The Personal Window of Paula Modersohn-Becker
Paula Modersohn-Becker’s life and vibrant artistic career provides a unique view into the turn of the twentieth century’s shifting ideology concerning female duty in Germany and Europe. Three avant-garde thinkers, poet Rainier Maria Rilke, feminist writer Ellen Key, and philosopher Frederic Nietzsche, influenced Modersohn-Becker’s views on the social and personal issues explored in her art. The tension between these three perspectives and Modersohn- Becker’s own beliefs is evident in the artist’s personal iconography. In particular, nine paintings of pregnant mothers and mothers with children from 1898 to 1907 reflect Modersohn-Becker’s evolving view of maternity. Modersohn Becker’s works exemplify the struggle between the evolving social and political expectations of women’s role in society.