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Although personal references can only rarely be distinguished in Otto Mueller’s pictorial narratives, this painting can be linked directly to the artist’s biography. The figure depicted is Maschka, who Mueller met in Dresden in 1899 and married in 1905. At the time the painting was made, Mueller was thinking about a divorce because he had recently started having an affair with a student of his at the Breslauer Akademie. Maschka with Mask appears as a double portrait of the artist and his wife: Mueller himself is incarnated in the mask which hangs like a trouvaille on the wall, with its empty eye sockets and a seemingly petrified mouth, thin-lipped and resigned. Maschka, on the other hand, seems self-confident and trendy, lively and temperamental. Like in other double portraits, in this painting in Essen Mueller not only takes on the role of viewer; he also subjects himself to self-questioning and examination because of the doubtful relationship between the two.

Details

  • Title: Maschka with Mask
  • Creator: Otto Mueller
  • Date: 1919/1921
  • Provenance: Acquired in 1978 with the support of the Eugen-und-Agnes-von-Waldthaausen-Platzhoff-Museums-Stiftung
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Museum Folkwang
  • Medium: Glue-bound distemper on burlap
  • Höhe: 95.5 cm
  • Collection: Painting, Sculpture, Media Art, New Worlds
  • Breite: 67.5 cm

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