Sunday, May 20, 2007

Paula Modersohn Becker

Paula Modersohn Becker is the first artist that comes to my mind when someone asks me who my favorite artist is. My BFA work was directly influenced by her paintings. The subjects I used to mainly be focused on were women and fruit. I wrote a paper while traveling in Europe about fruit in art. Fruit, like many things has many symbolic meanings. For me I always connected the female figure with fruit. Fruit has a life cycle, ending with fruit rotting and then reseeding in the ground. Beautiful.

One of my favorite poets is Rainer Maria Rilke. A few years back I put it together that Rilke and Becker were close friends. Her death is a beautiful part of her story. She had chosen to wait to have a child so that she could pursue her career as a painter. Shortly after giving birth to her daughter she died from a blood clot to her heart. Her last words were, "What a shame." She had foreseen her own death (a bit of Cassandra in her).

I read this passage from Requiem For a Friend, written to her after her death by Rilke.

I will have the gardeners come to me and recite many flowers, and in their small melodious names I will bring back some remnant of the hundred fragrances. And fruits: I will buy fruits, and in their sweetness that country’s earth and sky will live, again. For that is what you understood: ripe fruits. You set them before the canvas, in white bowls, and weighed out each one’s heaviness with your colors. Women too, you saw, were fruits; and children, molded from inside, into the shapes of their existence. And at last you saw yourself as a fruit, you stepped out of your clothes and brought your naked body before the mirror, you let yourself inside down to your gaze; which stayed in front, immense, and didn’t say: I am that; no: this is. So free of curiosity your gaze had become, so unpossessive, of such true poverty, it had no desire even for your yourself; it wanted nothing: holy.

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