Identity describes everything that constitutes human nature and thus is the quintessence of the self: one’s characteristic traits, experiences and self-perceptions as much as ascriptions by others. Even if the concept of identity as a continual, changeable process has currently reached a certain consensus, the perpetual question concerning a substantial core has not yet become obsolete. The search for her own identity was something that was accompanying Anita Rée throughout her entire life and artistic practice. In this portrait of the 1930s, she depicted herself frontally, naked and with an insistent gaze, which for this period was quite an unusual approach. She pointedly exemplifies that a preoccupation with her artistic practice, her gender and her origin are not understood as separate from the then prevailing social conventions and political developments. Then and now, it seems as though the acceptance of the variability and diversity of one’s own identity and that of society are mutually dependent.

Sjusanna Eremjan (research assistant)