Trading Monet for Modersohn-Becker
20. Feb 2022 – 04. Sep 2022
Paula Modersohn-Becker, Diary, Worpswede 1897
»Worpswede, Worpswede – you are always on my mind. … Your birch trees, those delicate, slender maidens that catch the eye. With that limp, dreamy grace, as if life had not yet dawned on them [...] Some are already quite virile, bold, with strong, straight gnarled trunks. These are my modern women.«
This year, the Art Chamber Rau is presenting a very special meeting of collections. 20 works from the Rau Collection for UNICEF will enter into a dialogue with 35 highlights of the Roselius Collection from the Böttcherstraße Museums in Bremen as well as with four further works from the Paula Modersohn-Becker Foundation. Joining them is artist Berlinde De Bruyckere with three striking works. That way an energetic force field is built around the exceptional artist Paula Modersohn-Becker, whom this show is chiefly dedicated to. As if under a magnifying glass, her example allows us to observe groundbreaking changes in society and art around 1900. Resolutely painting »straight ahead«, she pursued her path unperturbed by any criticism – a role model that is still very much relevant today.
The visitors first enter a room with a colour scheme and choice of works that is modelled on the artist’s studio. A large part of her works never left their place of production – in particular the portraits with which the painter questioned herself and her environment. She found inspiration in the old masters in museums but also in her contemporaries in galleries and private collections.
At the centre of the exhibition are spectacular nudes by Modersohn-Becker, some of them life-sized. Quite a number of them were already created during her studies. But even years later, she kept going back to them and reworked them into impressive canvas paintings that celebrated the natural beauty of the body – the »great simplicity of form«, as she called it.
Paula Modersohn-Becker’s landscapes and still lifes live on the power of stillness, which she found in the vastness of the moorlands and in the everyday beauty of things. Aside from that, she studied with intensity the light-filled paintings of the Late Impressionists and Les Nabis. Maurice Denis in particular was a great source of inspiration for her. The painter’s deep attachment to nature is uniquely modern and pioneering. Naturalness was her highest command – whether in her nudes or in her views of the landscape. Not admonishingly, but lovingly, she sought harmony and unison with things and portrayed people as part of nature, interwoven with it and dependent on it.