The Museum of Modern Art and Neue Galerie New York Acquire Paula Modersohn-Becker Painting, the Only Self-Portrait by the Artist in the United States

Posted on November 21, 2017

The Museum of Modern Art and Neue Galerie New York have jointly acquired Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Self-Portrait with Two Flowers in Her Raised Left Hand (1907). The work is the gift of Debra and Leon Black to The Museum of Modern Art and the gift of Ronald S. Lauder to the Neue Galerie.  

Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, said, “This will be the only self-portrait by Paula Modersohn-Becker in the United States, and her only painting in a New York institution. An acquisition of this importance and rarity is a thrilling occurrence here at the Museum. Self-Portrait will be the earliest painting by a woman on view in our collection galleries.”

Paula Modersohn-Becker (German, 1876–1907) is a pioneering figure of the 20th-century German avant-garde. In this emblematic self-portrait, a pregnant Modersohn-Becker stares out at the viewer with a steady, compelling gaze. One hand is raised, holding two stylized flowers, while the other is positioned over her swelling belly. Modersohn-Becker is believed to be the first woman to paint herself while pregnant; this painting is one of only a few such portrayals. She gave birth to a daughter on November 2, 1907, and died of complications on November 21, at age 31. The painting’s audacious palette, stark composition, and psychological depth reflect Modersohn-Becker’s position as a pivotal link between Fauvism and German Expressionism. 

 

The Museum of Modern Art and Neue Galerie New York Acquire Paula Modersohn-Becker Painting, the Only Self-Portrait by the Artist in the United States


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