Great Women Artists
Throughout the study of art history, male artists dominated. For generations, only a small number of female artists have been part of art history, asking aspiring female artists, “Where are all the great female artists?”
There are many reasons why women haven't received the acclaim they deserved until recently. Until 1860, women could not attend art schools or show their work in the salon exhibitions of the time, and even when they could, it was to a limited extent. Unfortunately, as more and more women entered elite art academies and began to show their work, much of it was undervalued or neglected. With the beginning of the Women's Movement in the 1960s, more and more female artists began to receive the recognition they deserved. Today, the history of art is being re-examined and artists who fell by the wayside are now being included and rewarded for their contributions to the evolution of art.
We've compiled a list of what we believe to be some of the most important female artists of the past and present. We regret that we do not have the space to include all the women who have enriched important artistic movements over time. If we left out one of your favorites, we apologize.
1. Louise Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842)
Being a woman and a professional portraitist in the 18th century was unheard of. To be a woman and official portraitist of the Queen of France was unthinkable. However, Louise Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun achieved both. Madame Le Brun is best known for her portraits of the elite in the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. During his lifetime, he created around 660 portraits and 220 landscapes, some of which are in museums such as the Louvre, the Hermitage Museum, the National Gallery in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2. Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)
Rosa Bonheur was widely recognized as France's most famous female painter during the 19th century. Its popularity arose from its breathtaking paintings of animals, especially horses and cattle. Rosa was luckier than most women who dreamed of becoming artists at that time, as her father, Oscar-Raymond Bonheur, was an established painter who taught her and always encouraged her artistic career.
3. Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
American painter who lived in France, member of the famous group of male impressionists, who was known for her beautiful portraits of women, children and domestic life. Mary Cassatt was inspired by light, patterns, Japanese engraving and the intimacy of the family, ending up inspiring male and female painters who came later with her techniques. His paintings are highly valued and are exhibited in private collections, as well as in the world's largest museums.
4. Aurelia de Souza (1866-1922)
She was one of the few Portuguese women who, in her own right, won a place in the gallery of great Portuguese painters of the second half of the 19th century, along with other renowned artists. His works are composed of different themes, such as portraits (his favorite genre - whether self-portraits, family portraits etc.), landscapes (sketches or finished, resulting from his travels, inspired by his home or rural Porto) and everyday scenes which portray, in tenebrous interiors, children or women doing their household chores.
6. Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)
Georgia O'Keeffe's art can be seen on famous museum walls, calendars, mugs and t-shirts. Proclaimed by many art critics as the “Mother of American Modernism”, her legacy of abstract art continues to influence artists of our time. The artist is best known for her large, provocative flowers and paintings of skulls, but her work ranges from the landscapes of the American West to the skyscrapers of New York City.
7. Lyubov Popova (1889-1924)
This Russian avant-garde artist was ahead of her time as one of the first female leaders of the Russian-developed Cubo-Futurism movement. This movement combined the style of Italian Futurism with French Cubism. From there, he explored the suprematist movement, which emerged around 1913 in Russia. Its basis was the use of geometric shapes, such as squares, rectangles and circles. In addition to her iconic paintings, Lyubov Popova is also known for her fabric prints, book covers and posters.
8. Alma Thomas (1891-1978)
During the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the work of Alma Thomas stood out as a beacon of hope and optimism. This African-American artist dedicated her life to art after retiring as a teacher. Her rise to fame soared when her colorful Expressionist paintings were exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art, becoming the first African-American woman to hold a solo exhibition at this museum.
9. Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Whenever we talk about famous artists, the nameFrida Kahlois always at the top of the list! His works capture the culture of his native Mexico, while questioning social, political and cultural issues. These themes are just one of the many reasons why she remains so popular today. With vivid colors and a folkloric and surrealist style,Frida Kahlocreated works of art inspired by nature and Mexican artifacts, as well as painting countless self-portraits and portraits of other people. She is considered a major influence by many contemporary female artists.
10. Maria HelenaVieira da Silva (1908-1992)
In abstract compositions,Maria HelenaVieira da Silvainvolved his work in a poetry of colors and shapes, inspired by big cities. With a smooth stroke, he worked in sculpture, illustrations, theatrical decorations and also dedicated himself to tapestry. The artist worked and lived mainly in Paris, however it is possible to discover traces of Lisbon in her work. Due to the Second World War and the Estado Novo, she took refuge in Brazil with her husband, the painter Arpad Szenes. It was mainly from the post-war period that his work began to be recognized and celebrated nationally and internationally, with several commissions and exhibitions. Find out more about the artist at5 Little Known Facts about Maria HelenaVieira da Silva.
11. Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
Best known for spider sculptures and other large-scale works, Louise Bourgeois was also a gifted painter and engraver. He enjoyed a long career, in which he produced a substantial body of work. This French-American artist has explored many themes through art, including family, sexuality and death. Louise Bourgeois is not associated with any particular art group, but her work is treated by many as feminist and surrealist art.
12. Gwendolyn Knight (1913-2005)
A person's culture and family history can be a great inspiration for their creations. This was the case for Gwendolyn Knight, who for most of her pictorial career focused on African-American culture and history. Gwendolyn Knight painted portraits, city scenes, landscapes and still lifes in oil, watercolor and gouache. Later, Gwendolyn Knight created animal prints and monoprints in a lyrical style in response to her feelings about African dance and theater.
13. Lygia Clark (1920-1988)
Lygia Clark, was a Brazilian artist best known for her painting and installation works. Often associated with the Brazilian constructivist movements of the mid-20th century and the Tropicália movement.Lygia Clarkconsidered the work of art as an experience or as a body that interacts with the spectator. So his works dealt with the relationship between inside and outside and how the viewer discovers and reacts to his works.
14. Yayoi Kusama (1929-)
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese avant-garde artist best known for her use of polka dots and electric colors. His works span sculpture, installation and painting, as well as cinema, fashion and literature. As a conceptual artist, she infiltrates feminism, pop art and abstract impressionism in her works.
15. Lourdes Castro (1930-2022)
Lourdes Castro is considered one of the most important contemporary Portuguese artists. The Portuguese artist managed to make a name for herself internationally, through her interventions, full of a singular look at reality. A discreet but much admired figure, who has received several awards in recent decades (EDP,Vieira da Silva, AICA) and recognitions, having been decorated by the President of the Republic last June with the Military Order of Sant'Iago da Espada", says the note, which recalls several retrospectives that it was the subject of.
16. Helena Almeida (1934-2018)
Portuguese artist known for her work in photography, performance art, body art, painting and drawing. He exhibited individually for the first time in 1967, presenting geometric and abstracting compositions in which he questioned the pictorial space and explored the physical limits of painting, a problem that would be developed in his future work. From the end of the 1960s onwards, he began to focus on intense reflection on self-representation and on the relations of tension between the body, space and the work: his own body is then seen as an object and support of the work, thematic which from 1975 onwards is developed through the manipulation of media such as painting, drawing, engraving, installation, photography and video. An artist with an intense conceptual matrix, his rigorous and original plastic research has earned him strong national and international recognition since the 1970s.
17. Paula Rego (1935-)
Introducing into his works expressive, deep and ambiguous elements,Paula Regohas gained recognition as one of the greatest artists of our time, nationally and internationally. From abstractionism to conceptualism, his pieces are part of a figurative field of their own: «the beautiful grotesque». Insurreal compositions with a cruelty- both subtle and explicit - the Portuguese artist demonstrates her own imagination, the brutality of Portuguese folk tales, dysfunctional family relationships, political systems and social structures. Women and girls are put in the foreground, and animals often replace humans. Between life and art,Paula Rego demonstrates his concerns and convictions, as an example of this, the production of the series entitled«Abortion» for agreeing with the decriminalization of voluntary termination of pregnancy.
18. Armanda Passos (1944-2021)
Armanda Passosstood out in Portuguese artistic production with its full of deep meanings linked to its intimate space. In the vivid colors of his portraits, we see, in a dreamlike way, his interpretations, above all, of the woman, as a figure and representation. In addition to thefemale figures, his relationship with nature is evident in his works, in particular with birds, and by the development of a revolutionary technique with silkscreen. She did not see herself noticed in painting or drawing and did not foresee an artistic future, however fate made her one of the most predominant Portuguese artists, marking the art of the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. He left a work full of paintings, drawings and serigraphs that represent a talent that manifested itself smoothly. Currently, his pieces are present in several collections, namely the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation's Modern Art Center, the Serralves Foundation and theAmadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
19. MarinaAbramovic (1946-)
A famous Serbian-American painter and performance artist,MarinaAbramovich invites viewers to participate in exploring the limits of mind and body.MarinaAbramovich uses his own body as a canvas to face the pain and limitations of the human body, in what is known as body art.MarinaAbramovich is recognized as one of the leading provocative and important artistic presences of our time.
20. Graça Morais (1948-)
Wrapped in mystery and surprise,Graça Moraiscreates works that convey to the viewer his memory of the rural world, of the village of Vieiro in Trás-os-Montes, where he was born and raised. In a relationship between the body, thought and experience, the artist paints with strong features the faces of a village, the stories of the Portuguese people, their customs, the way of working and the power of motherhood. In addition to painting, he created illustrations for books and tile panels in various buildings such as the Caixa Geral de Depósitos Building in Lisbon, the Belarus Station of the Moscow Metro, among others.Graça Moraisrepresented Portugal at the XVII Bienal de São Paulo in 1983. In 2008, the Center for Contemporary Art was inauguratedGraça Morais(CACGM) in Bragança, designed by the architect Souto Moura, which has a nucleus of several rooms dedicated topainter's work.