In honor of March being Women’s History Month, I’m sharing some of my favorite female artists with you all! These women were pioneers in their respective fields and their work, although groundbreaking, was often overlooked at the time due to their gender. I hope these examples give you inspiration to look into and support female artists in the future!
Berthe Morisot – one of the few female impressionists, she paved the way for women artists in a new area and portrayed scenes from women’s lives as opposed to typically male content. She was associated with Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Degas, and was included in seven of the eight Impressionist group exhibitions held between 1874 and 1886. Read more about Morisot here.
Judy Chicago – Her piece The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum of Art is incredibly powerful – a must-see feminist work. Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans five decades. Read more about her life and work here.
Louise Bourgeois – I’m a huge fan of her spider sculptures, which can be found at museums across the US, including the MoMA and Smithsonian National Sculpture Garden in DC. Bourgeois used a variety of forms, materials, and scale; veering between figuration and abstraction while she continually probed the same themes: loneliness, jealousy, anger, and fear. Read more about her work here.
Yayoi Kusama – Well known for her beautiful large scale installation pieces such as Infinity Mirror Rooms and Obliteration Room, she started to paint using polka dots and nets as motifs at around age ten and created fantastic paintings in watercolors, pastels and oils. She was a pioneer in abstract art during the time of Jackson Pollack, but was unfortunately overlooked for many years due to being an Asian woman. Read more about her life and work here, but I’d also recommend watching last year’s film about her, Kusama: Infinity.
Marina Abramović – A true statement maker, this visionary artist is known for her boundary pushing feminist works and performance art that sometimes put her own life on the line! Check out more of her fascinating life and work here.
Mary Cassatt – An influential impressionist painter, she was the only American officially associated with the Impressionist group, and Cassatt exhibited in four of their eight exhibitions. She started off working mainly with figure compositions, her family, and theater, before working on her signature specialty of the mother and child theme. Read more about Cassatt here.
Frida Kahlo – This influential Mexican artist is remembered for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors. She is celebrated for her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture as well as for her depiction of the female experience and form. Kahlo faced a difficult life filled with physical limitations and tumultuous relationships and explores many of these themes in her powerful works. Explore more about Kahlo’s life and works here.
Georgia O’Keeffe – She is one of the most significant and intriguing artists of the twentieth century, known internationally for her boldly innovative art. Her distinct flowers, dramatic cityscapes, glowing landscapes, and images of bones against the stark desert sky are iconic and original contributions to American Modernism. Contrary to popular opinion, I’ve always been more fascinated with her desert landscapes and skeleton paintings over her iconic flowers. Read more about her work here.
Lee Krasner – One of the first generation Abstract Expressionist painters, she continually explored innovative approaches to painting and collage over a career spanning six decades. She married the painter Jackson Pollock and even though she was often overshadowed by him, she was actually an established abstract artist well before she met him. After Pollock’s death in an automobile crash, Krasner devoted the rest of her life to promoting Pollock’s art and ensuring his legacy, while also continuing her own exploration of abstraction. Explore more about Krasner’s life and works here.
Carolee Schneemann – A multidisciplinary artist, she used her work to transform the definition of art, especially discourse on the body, sexuality, and gender. Her works include painting, photography, performance art, and installation works shown around the US and she has also been a teacher at various universities. Read more about her work and life here.
Cindy Sherman – A true photographic chameleon; her decades-long performative practice of photographing herself under different guises has produced many of contemporary art’s most iconic and influential images. At the heart of Sherman’s work is the multitude of identity stereotypes that have arisen throughout both the history of art and the history of advertising, cinema, and media. Sherman reveals and dismantles these stereotypes as well as the mechanics of their production in creating series after series of photographs that focus on particular image-making procedures. Check out more of Sherman’s life and work here.