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Being Here

Being Here: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker

Marie Darrieussecq

Translated by Penny Hueston

Born in Germany in 1876, Paula Modersohn-Becker was the first female artist to paint herself not only naked but pregnant. Being Here is a moving account of the life of this ground-breaking Expressionist painter, by the acclaimed French writer Marie Darrieussecq. 

As her art evolves, Paula is torn between Paris and her home in northern Germany. In Paris she can focus on her work, and mix with artists like Rodin and Monet, or her close friend the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. But Germany is home, and that’s where her painter husband Otto lives.

Darrieussecq thrillingly describes Paula’s discovery of her style and choice of subjects—women, babies, domestic life. She tells the story of her fraught marriage, her ambivalence about combining her passion for her career as an artist with motherhood. And she recounts her tragic death at thirty-one, days after giving birth.


West Australian

Marie Darrieussecq
About the Author

Marie Darrieussecqis a French writer born in Bayonne in 1969. Her first novel,Pig Tales,was published in 1996 and subsequently translated into thirty-five languages. She has written some fifteen books for adults, including novels, short fiction, a play, and nonfiction works. In 2013 she was awarded both the Prix Médicis and the Prix des Prix for...

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Text publication date:
3 July 2017
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Praise for Marie Darrieussecq
andBeing Here

‘Marie Darrieussecq reads the testament of Modersohn-Becker—the letters, the diaries, and above all the paintings—with a burning intelligence and a fierce hold on what it meant and means to be a woman and an artist.’

‘A luminous tale about the courage of the lone female artist.’

‘There are few writers who may have changed my perception of the world, but Darrieussecq is one of them.’

‘A brief, powerful artistic life that went painfully unrewarded—until after the painter’s death.’

‘The internationally celebrated author who illuminates those parts of life other writers cannot or do not want to reach.’

‘An allusive short memoir that reads like a novel.’

‘Penny Hueston’s translation from the original French, reads strangely—and in a good way—like true crime…Heartbreaking.’

‘A vividly empathetic impressionist collage…This lively, attractive book is an excellent introduction to [Modersohn-Becker’s] world and her astonishing achievement.’

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