Paula Modersohn-Becker: When Life Imitates Art

The name Paula Modersohn-Becker may not say much to you outside of Germany, but at 30 years old she was the first woman to paint herself in the nude, in Self-Portrait at Sixth Wedding Anniversary. Here, one quarter turned with her face flushed, she exposes two small, perky breasts crowned by an amber necklace, one…

Joan Semmel – Intimacy/Autonomy (1974)

If to empathize means to put yourself in someone else’s place, then Joan Semmel’s self-portraits offer us an exercise in empathy. Four decades before selfies became a thing, this American artist was resorting to photography to document her body and sexuality, an approach that offered her a unique vantage point, further explored through painting. One…

Pierre Bonnard – Siesta (1900)

Of all the themes that an artist might tackle, sleep has always been one of my favorites. It’s highly versatile, as it can allude to deep, physical contentment, sexuality, escapism or the mystery of the subconscious. For me, it’s always been more about its physicality, the rejuvenating pleasure one might derive from it and the…

Emiliano Di Cavalcanti – Woman with a Bird (1961)

A pioneer of Brazilian modernism, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti’s ideal had always been to capture the essence of his country without the influence of European art. It was, foremost, an issue of national pride, magnified by the fact that Latin Americans everywhere were searching for their own voice. This conviction was certainly strengthened by his years…

Konstantin Somov – The Boxer (1933)

The fact that there are such few male nudes in art stands as proof that for the longest time women couldn’t access the art world. Even if they could, it would have been highly inappropriate for them to be alone in a room with a naked male model, let alone paint them for hours. Some…

José de Almada Negreiros – The Nap (1939)

Not only a complex Portuguese artist, but also a prolific writer, poet, actor, dancer and choreographer, he was a creative through and through. In writing, José de Almada Negreiros identified with Futurism and Dadaism, seeking to present the absurdity of life. In painting, he was just as modern, but more of a Realist. You can…