At St. Etienne, Paula Modersohn-Becker Out-Currins John Currin

THE DAILY PIC: A painting from about 1901 looks 100 years younger.

Paula Modersohn-Becker, Girl with Yellow Wreath and Daisy (1901). Courtesy of Galerie St. Etienne, New York.


THE DAILY PIC (#1458): Paula Modersohn-Becker painted Girl with Yellow Wreath and Daisy in about 1901, and it’s now in a rare survey of her work at Galerie St. Etienne in New York. It could easily pass for the work of some recent follower of John Currin – which is either praise for Modersohn-Becker’s prescience, or condemnation for the nostalgia that today’s figurative painters are bathing in. It should probably stand as both, with the Currins of this world revisiting an earlier avant-garde and recasting it as retrograde.

But the truth is, Modersohn-Becker’s perfect calibration of celebration (that cheery wreath) and sorrow (those shadowed eyes), could probably make an impact at almost any moment.

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