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Painted self-portrait
Gender Genres
30.05.2017 | AWARE

Frida Kahlo, Autoportrait en robe Tehuana ou Diego dans mon esprit, 1943, oil on masonite, © FineArtImages/Leemage, © ADAGP, Paris

From Catharina van Hemessen, a 16th-century artist and pioneer of the self-portrait, to Suzanne Valadon’s early 20th-century paintings, self-portraits have spanned epochs and remain a favoured subject among women artists. Since they were excluded from model and nude classes for so long, they fell back on using their own bodies as examples, thus documenting various stages of their lives, such as Paula Modersohn-Becker’s pregnancy (Self-Portrait on Her Sixth Wedding Anniversary, 1906), or Frida Kahlo’s infirmity and confinement to bed (The Broken Column, Self-portrait, 1944). Whether realistic or abstract (Pat Steir’s Waterfall self-portraits), self-portraiture has often represented a form of emancipation for women painters.

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