Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Gabriele Münter and Marianne Werefkin
Published by Royal Academy of Arts.
Text by Dorothy Price, Shulamith Behr, Chantal Joffe, Sarah Lea.
Painterly transformations of feminine identity from a group of German Expressionists
Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907), Gabriele Münter (1877–1962) and Marianne Werefkin (1860–1938) are among the exceptional artists associated with the emergence of Expressionism in Germany in the early decades of the 20th century. Each challenged prevailing ideals of feminine identity at a time of great societal change. As women, they were expected to marry and raise a family; some chose to, some did not. As ambitious artists, they wanted to work.
As they rose to these challenges, their art further undermined conventions. Their portraits of children symbolize joy, hope and innocence but also melancholy, tension, curiosity, the passing of time and unfulfilled desire. Their radical depictions of the nude wrest the female body away from the male gaze toward a newfound role, expressive of powerful maternity and female subjectivity.
These dramatic modernist compositions, with their fluid brushwork and bright hues, push at the boundaries of form, color and spiritual meaning. Accompanying a major exhibition in London, this volume looks at the innovations and interconnections of these Expressionist pioneers.