We will be looking at artists from each of the major countries of Europe: Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Britain.
1876-1907: Paula Modersohn-Becker
- Paula was an early German Expressionist who created a number of groundbreaking images in the first decade of the century.
- Paula Becker married Otto Modersohn, one of the founders of an artists' colony that she joined in Northern Germany.
- She was torn between being an artist and being a mother; she felt it was impossible to do both.
- She finally had a baby at the age of 31, but she died a few weeks later.
- She was known for painting female nudes and nude self-portraits.
1877-1962: Gabriele Münter
- Gabriele was a key part of the artistic breakthroughs of modernist artists in Germany before World War I.
- She was part of the Blue Rider group of artists. The Blue Rider artists wanted art to express personal experience. It was part of the German Expressionist movement.
- She studied art a progressive art school founded by Wassily Kandinsky, the most advanced Russian artist of the time, credited with inventing abstract painting.
- Gabriele fell in love with Kandinsky although he was a married man, and spent many years thinking he would marry her when his divorce came through.
- Gabriele preserved a large cache of Kandinsky's paintings from Nazi soldiers and later donated them to a museum in Munich called Lenbachhaus, along with works of her own and other artists in their circle.
- She eventually found true love with art historian Johannes Eichner.
- She was an heiress who was not dependent on her career.
1865-1938: Suzanne Valadon
- Suzanne was one of the most innovative painters in France in the early 20th century.
- Suzanne was trained by some of the finest painters of the previous century, and built her style on Post-Impressionism.
- Suzanne was raised as a street kid in Montmartre, the artsy district of Paris.
- She started her career as an artist's model for all the most important artists in the area.
- She learned to paint by studying the work of her clients.
- The artists she posed for tended to become infatuated with her for awhile.
- She had a child out of wedlock when she was 18. He became a famous painter named Maurice Utrillo.
- One of her favorite subjects was candid nudes.
- She also excelled at portraiture.
1883-1956: Marie Laurencin
- Marie was a famous painter all through the first half of the 20th Century.
- Marie studied at a major art academy in Paris, along with Georges Braque.
- Georges Braque introduced Marie to his friends, including Picasso.
- She had a famous affair with poet and art critic, Guillaume Apollinaire.
- Her early fame rested on two group portraits featuring herself, Apollinaire, and Picasso.
- In the 1920s she worked in a graceful, decorative style that made her a popular portraitist among prominent social figures.
- She designed costumes and sets for various productions for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.
- She was extremely prolific; a museum devoted to her in Japan has 600 works.
- Marie was the only child of an unwed mother but she had a proper middle-class education.
1885-1979: Sonia Delaunay
- Sonia was a pioneer of abstract art in the years before World War I.
- She was a co-founder of a movement called Orphism.
- Originating around 1912-1913, Orphism was a development of Cubism that made use of color relationships to get the effect of movement and music.
- Sonia was married to artist Robert Delaunay, co-founder of Orphism.
- She also achieved fame as a designer of fashions and costumes.
- Sonia was raised by a wealthy Jewish family in the Ukraine.
- She moved to Paris at the age of 20 in 1905.
1881-1962: Natalia Goncharova
- Natalia was a leading artist of the Russian avant-garde in the early 20th century.
- She experimented with several advanced styles, including Neo-Primitivism, Rayism, and Cubo-futurism.
- She also achieved fame as a designer of theatrical costumes.
- Her partner in life was another advanced Russian artist, Mikhail Larionov.
- Natalia and Mikhail immigrated to Paris in 1914 and became French citizens in 1938.
- Natalia came from a noble and well-educated family. She studied art at the finest Russian art school.
- Natalia holds the world record for the price paid for a work of art by a woman.
1882-1949: Alexandra Exter
- Alexandra Exter was a Russian painter and designer of international stature in the early 20th century.
- Alexandra painted some of the earliest works of Abstractionism.
- She played a key role in the development of a Russian movement known as Constructivism, and was closely associated with Kazimir Malevich.
- For the first 20 years of her career, Alexandra traveled between Paris, Milan, and Rome, in addition to Kiev and Moscow, to show her work.
- In 1924 she immigrated to Paris where she became a famous theater designer.
- Her family was wealthy and she was well-educated. She graduated from the Kiev Art Institute.
1889-1924: Lyubov Popova
- Lyubov Popova was a leading member of the Russian avant-garde in the early 20th century.
- She excelled as a painter, graphic artist, theatrical set designer, textile designer, teacher, and art theorist.
- Prior to World War I her style evolved from Cubism, through Cubo-Futurism, and Suprematism.
- After 1917, she identified completely with the Bolshevik Revolution.
- She renounced painting and turned to design of fashion, fabrics and uniforms because these were more useful to society.
- She died at the age of 35 of scarlet fever.
- She came from a wealthy and cultured family. She studied art in Russia, as well as an art academy in Paris.
1889-1943: Sophie Taeuber-Arp
- Sophie is one of the few Swiss artists to achieve international recognition.
- Sophie was a multi-talented artist who specialized in textile design.
- Her early textiles were in the Constructivist style.
- During World War I, she was a central figure in the Dada movement in Zurich.
- In 1926 Sophie moved to France, where she worked as an interior designer.
- She married to a German-French sculptor named Hans, or Jean, Arp, who also worked in a Dada style.
- Sophie died accidentally at age 53.
1891-1955: Charley Toorop
- Charley was the only Dutch woman artist of the 20th century to gain an international reputation.
- She focused all her energy on painting—not sculpture, not design.
- Her style was heightened realism, confrontational in composition and cinematic in terms of lighting.
- Charley was the daughter of Jan Toorop, the foremost Dutch painter of his time. She learned painting skills from him.
- Charley is especially well known for her self-portraits, but her depictions of other character types are even more powerful.
1911-2013: Ángeles Santos Torroella
- Ángeles was a Spanish painter who created a pair of masterpieces in her teens.
- Her career was cut short by a nervous breakdown when she was 20.
- Ángeles resumed painting in her 40s; her work was old-fashioned and failed to win respect in the art world.
Born 1931: Bridget Riley
Born 1931: Bridget Riley
- Bridget is a British Op Art painter whose work played an important part in the culture of the 1960s.
- She devoted her whole career to variations of Op Art, long after it fell out of popularity.
- Her Op Art style has passed through several phases of experimentation, holding the interest of her fans.
We considered the art of the early 20th century in 7 European countries.
The Germans were into Expressionism: Paula Mohderson-Becker, Gabriele Munter.
The French practiced post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and Abstraction: Suzanne Valadon, Marie Laurencin, Sonia Delaunay.
The Russians were into Abstraction and socially useful arts: Natalia Goncharova, Alexandra Exter, Lyubov Popopova.
The Swiss artist was into Abstraction and Dada: Sophie Taeuber-Arp.
The Dutch artist was a stylized Realist: Charley Toorop.
The Spanish artist experimented with Surrealism and New Objectivity: Ángeles Santos.
The British artist is the most widely celebrated Op artist: Bridget Riley.