“What a pity.” The final words of Paula Modersohn-Becker. She was just 31 when, on 20 November 1907, soon after the birth of her daughter Mathilde, she breathed her last. Paula had been restless her entire life. For many years she was torn between a life devoted entirely to art, and a life balanced between art and motherhood. In her mind, and in reality, she travelled back and forth between the excitement of Paris, the centre of art, and her home in the quiet German village of Worpswede with her artist husband Otto Modersohn and her stepdaughter Elsbeth. By the time she painted Self-portrait with Hat and Veil in 1906-1907 she appears to have made her choice: she wanted to be a mother, and was sure she could shape the role as she saw fit. And indeed, it was her portrayal of motherhood that was so innovative. Meet Paula in this video.
The video was made by Niels Gerson Lohman and Yen-Ju Lee. Paula’s words are spoken by Soumaya Ahouaoui and the script was written by Renée van Marissing. Many thanks to the Paula-Modersohn-Becker-Stiftung and the Rembrandt Association and Turing Foundation for making this project possible.
If you would like to know more, try the longread by curator Laura Stamps, designed by Studio Klem, where you can delve into the impressive artistic legacy of Paula Modersohn-Becker: paula-modersohn-becker.nl.
Visit our exhibition Paula Modersohn-Becker – A New Image of Woman