Lotte Laserstein, I and My Model, 1929/30 Photo: Lotte Laserstein Archiv Krausse, Berlin ©Lotte Laserstein Courtesy of Agnews, London . Bildupphovsrätt 2023

I and My Model, 1929/30

Lotte Laserstein

Runtime: 01:58

Narrator: Lotte Laserstein formulated the special significance of her model Traute Rose in paintings such as “In My Studio” and “At the Mirror”, but in the double portrait “I and My Model” she also visualizes the closeness of their companionship. This time in an undefined setting, Laserstein again shows herself at work surrounded by the things that constitute her personal universe: the canvas before her, the brush and palette, and at her shoulder her attractive friend, who steps up behind the painter to cast a glance at the work in progress. The gentle gesture of Traute’s resting hand and the whispering pose as she leans slightly forward, and even the sensuality she exudes in her chemise with its satin sheen, reflect iconographic conventions associated with the muse a s a trope. But Laserstein deconstructs the tacit hierarchy usually inherent in the role of the muse by subtly guiding the viewer’s gaze along a pathway.

The artist stares assertively out of the frame, seeming hardly to notice her friend’s touch. She must b e looking at a mirror, which is essential when painting a self portrait. It is clear from the direction of her eyes, however, that she is not seeking her own image there but that of her friend standing behind her. This shift draws the optical sequence back toward the painting before us, or rather to the model, who picks up our gaze and deflects it forward by looking at the canvas where the artist is intent on reproducing what she sees in the mirror. Seeing and painting, then, are fused in a circuit that inextricably links the artist, the model, and the canvas.



Prev Next