"Between us Sleeps our child - art": Creativity, identity and the maternal in the works of Marianne von Werefkin and her contemporaries

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Abstract

Although the interstices between creativity, procreativity and motherhood are frequently rehearsed tropes within feminist analyses of creative practices by women artists, very little comparative research in English has been undertaken of the varying experiences of the discursive frameworks around women, identity and creativity in the work of German women artists within modernism. For both Kollwitz and Modersohn-Becker artistic creation and motherhood were twin concerns in their self-constructed identities as artists, yet for both von Werefkin and Gabriele Münter the poles of creativity and procreativity were more complexly figured. Whilst mothers and children feature as predominant subject matter in the works of Kollwitz and Modersohn-Becker, and to some extent in the work of Münter, specifically between 1908 and 1910, the subject is virtually absent in the works of von Werefkin for whom “art” is the child who sublimates her erotic desire, if her 'Lettres à un Inconnu', are to be believed. Münter’s Young Girl with Doll 1908-09 (Milwaukee Art Museum) is one of Münter’s most touching portraits of children during this period and bears interesting comparisons with both Modersohn-Becker’s images on the same theme but also with the provocative images of Franzi and Marzella being produced by Die Brücke artists. This particular painting will act as a springboard for my considerations of the role of children within German Expressionist’s ‘turn to youth’ and the particular complexities that this subject matter entailed for Werefkin (who for several years acted as stepmother to Jawlensky and Helene Nesnakomoff’s son Andreas in bizarre ménage a trois), and her contemporaries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarianne Werefkin and the Women Artists in her Circle
EditorsIsabel Wuensche, Tanja Malycheva
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Pages106-122
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789004328976
ISBN (Print)9789004333147
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2017
EventCrossing Borders: Marianne von Werefkin and the Cosmopolitan Women Artists in her Circle - Paula-Modersohn Becker Museum, Bremen, Germany
Duration: 11 Sep 201414 Sep 2014

Publication series

NameAvant-Garde Critical Studies
PublisherBrill
Volume33
ISSN (Print)1387-3008

Conference

ConferenceCrossing Borders: Marianne von Werefkin and the Cosmopolitan Women Artists in her Circle
CountryGermany
CityBremen
Period11/09/1414/09/14

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  • Cite this

    Price, D. C. (2017). "Between us Sleeps our child - art": Creativity, identity and the maternal in the works of Marianne von Werefkin and her contemporaries. In I. Wuensche, & T. Malycheva (Eds.), Marianne Werefkin and the Women Artists in her Circle (pp. 106-122). (Avant-Garde Critical Studies; Vol. 33). Brill Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004333147_010