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Life Arts    H4'ed 10/20/13

Paula Modersohn-Becker: The First Modern Woman Artist

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An important observation that Radycki makes is how Modersohn-Becker has been held to a different yardstick than male painters, especially those who also died at a young age. In a ten-year period, Modersohn-Becker created over seven hundred paintings and hundreds of drawings. Van Gogh, who produced eight hundred paintings in a decade, was lauded as prolific. Why was Modersohn-Becker evaluated far more harshly than male artists who died at her age--or younger--such as Georges Seurat or Egon Schiele? Radycki points out that the work of those two artists are not "lamented as unfinished, with its implication of juvenilia and unsecured categories."

Modersohn-Becker is clearly seen by Radycki within the framework of "the personal is political." She analyzes the difference between Modersohn-Becker's life experience and that of her male counterparts. Referencing feminist theory Radycki puts forth, "Time for women is constantly interrupted." In the composition, Still Life with Haddock, Radycki underscores the essence of the painting within the sphere of Modersohn-Becker's domestic chores. Her family dinner is wrapped in the newspaper it was purchased in. Adjacent are lemons that will probably be used in the preparation. It wasn't unrelated. She painted her dinner before cooking and serving it.

Radycki was the editor and translator of The Letters and Journals of Paula Modersohn-Becker. An art historian who has made women artists from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries her purview, Radycki shows that she was uniquely positioned to delve into the psychology of Modersohn-Becker.

Radycki's text is an incisive document that will speak to a range of audiences: art historians, feminists, artists, and those looking to the narrative of a creative woman--to help contemplate and forge their own future paths.

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Marcia G. Yerman Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter Page       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Marcia G. Yerman is a writer, activist, and artist based in New York City. Her articles--profiles, interviews, reporting and essays--focus on women's issues, the environment, human rights, the arts and culture. Her writing has been published by (more...)

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