Paula Modersohn-Becker was a pioneering German expressionist painter who was born on Feb. 8, 1876. The Google Doodle chose to celebrate her life and works today on what would have been her 142nd birthday.

WHO WAS PAULA MODERSOHN-BECKER?

Modersohn was the first woman to paint a naked self-portrait and one of the first women to paint other nude women as well. Her expressionist style fit in with the likes of other greats such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Modersohn began her artistic journey at age 18, though her parents wanted her to become a teacher and a wife like most women at that time.

Instead, Modersohn joined an artist colony in Worpswede where she met her future husband, the respected artist Otto Modersohn. Eager to continue on her path to artistry, she went to Paris to study with Otto. The two became engaged and Otto’s parents interfered and sent her to cooking school in preparation for her marriage, but Modersohn refused. She declared she “was going to become somebody” – she delivered on that promise and became one of the most prolific artists of the period.

Modersohn’s works usually featured women, often nude, as they slept, breastfed, gardened or did other stereotypically female actions. In 1906 alone, she painted 80 pieces and explained her frenetic painting as a way to make up for the two “lost” decades of her life, from infancy to adulthood, during which she did not create art.

Modersohn died in 1907 of an embolism just 18 days after giving birth to her daughter. She was 31-years-old.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Modersohn’s short-lived but prolific career, and was created by the Berlin-based artduo Golden Cosmos.

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