Self-portrait in front of the blue gray ground (Selbstbildnis vor blaugrauem Grund) by Paula Modersohn-Becker

Her self-portraits are a testament to her exploration of a wide range of styles and a gradual simplification of form. Through subtle contrasts, they formulate her process of forging an identity for herself as a woman and artist. She integrates conflicting positions into a whole, which, in the end, reveals, rather than masks, its contradictions.

She uses none of the motifs typical of male self-portraiture in the early twentieth-century. She never appears with any of the tools of the artist or in her studio. She is not positioning herself as a “special creative individual,” nor does she emphasise the distinction of her social class or the refinement (or marginality) of her dress and demeanour. She is no more interested in embellishing her physical appearance than in rendering it exactly, and in some instances she looks strikingly different from one self-portrait to another. She often painted herself in a full frontal position... (
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