For the International Women’s Day 2023, we wanted to acknowledge some of the famous female painters that have shaped or shaping the path for the new generation of artists.
The list below is a short list of women who made their marks on painting and in the world.
Enjoy and please let us know which ones you love the most!
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Frida Kahlo – a name you couldn’t have missed! She is one of the most famous Mexican Artists of the 20th century.
Her work doesn’t fail to showcase her Mexican culture or her provoking ideas about gender, class, and race. She was her own muse, known for depicting her unflinching emotions to the viewers.
“The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to.” – Frida Kahlo
Frida represented elements of life with extremely personal and fierce paintings by constantly remaking and layering her own identity. She makes her audience feel the pain and passion with her bold, vibrant colours; conveying her tragedies.
Compelling her audience to witness her vulnerabilities–her love, betrayal, miscarriage, or health issues, makes her work boldly confrontational. She died at the young age of 47 and got famous posthumous as a Feminist painter.
Today, she is a sensation among the youth and an icon for feminism and LGBTQI.
She continues to inspire all kinds of artists across the world.
Yayoi Kusama (1929-Present)
Yayoi Kusama is one of the famous Japanese artists who worked extensively with polka dots and neon colours.
She is best known for her mirrored “Infinity Rooms,” Yayoi Kusama’s efforts stretch back over six decades, a career that included a stint in NYC between 1957 and 1972, where she gained notoriety for outdoor happenings that involved public nudity
Her body of works includes sculpture, installation, and paintings as well as film, fashion, and literature. She is a conceptual artist who infiltrates feminism, pop art, and abstract impressionism into her work.
Her works are based on conceptual art; sharing some characteristics of surrealism, her art is minimalism and part of the feminist art movements.
An inspiration to artists across the world, her magical work of art has an almost hallucinatory intensity.
“I’m just another dot in the world” - Yayoi Kusama
Helen Frankentaler (1928-2011)
Known for her contributions to the evolution of post-war, this American female painter, Helen, is an important member of the abstract expressionism artistic movement.
Helen played a pivotal role in the transition of Abstract Art from grandiose gestures to a flat, minimalistic style.
She is a pioneer of colour field painting—a style that features large ribbons of colour as the painting’s “subject” and invented the soak-stain technique and expanded the possibilities of abstraction.
Helen thinned her paints and then poured them over an unprimed canvas. This allowed her paintings to have an almost-watercolour-like appearance with colour built-in organic layers.
Known as one of the most famous female painters of her period who still is influencing and inspiring generations of artists with her six-decades-worth of work which displays a constant evolution in style.
The body of her work includes a wide variety of mediums apart from painting on canvas and paper; she worked with ceramics, sculpture, tapestry, and printmaking.
“I don’t resent being a female painter. I don’t exploit it. I paint.” - Helen Frankentaler
Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979)
A prolific and innovative artist, Sonia Delaunay – a Russian painter who was a pioneer of abstract art in the years before World War I.
Sonia Delaunay grew up in St. Petersburg, from where her abstract compositions were directly inspired by the traditional quilts she saw as a child in Russia.
The couple was committed to developing Simultanism as a post-Cubist style of modern painting aimed at colour relationships, and to the depiction of modern subjects.
Sonia was one of the primary propagators of Orphism (a movement founded by her husband Robert), a theory wedding colour to form in order to achieve visual intensity on the surface of the canvas. Delaunay extended the visual exploration of this theory to a range of fields beyond painting, developing an entire career in textile design.
Sonia was very successful and had many solo and group exhibitions during her career.
She was one of the few female painters who was honoured with numerous awards, such as the French Légion d’Honneur (1975), Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (1958), and a gold medal for her two murals at the Paris World’s Fair (1937).
“Colour is the skin of the world” - Sonia Delaunay
Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)
Rosa Bonheur is perhaps one of the most famous women painters from the 19th century. She studies under her father, who was a struggling art teacher.
Rosa was a realist painter who shattered female conventions and created a name in a man’s world. She painted animals in striking lifelike details, as big and wild as she wanted and as natural as nature made them.
"Why shouldn’t I be proud to be a woman? My father, that enthusiastic apostle of humanity, told me again and again that it was woman’s mission to improve the human race…To his doctrines I owe my great and glorious ambition for the sex to which I proudly belong, whose independence I’ll defend till my dying day. Besides, I’m convinced the future is ours."
Royals, state leaders, and celebrities sought after Rosa Bonheur; her art bought her immense fame and fortune during her lifetime.
This rich and passionate female painter, who lived in a misogynistic century, had brilliant success without the help of a man.
“But the suit I wear is my work attire, and nothing else.” - Rosa Bonheur
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
Known as the “Mother of American modernism”, this 20th-century artist is one of the most celebrated women painters in history.
She was the first American to produce a purely abstract painting at a time when American realism was at its peak.
Inspired by an artist and designer–Arthur Wesley Dow, who emphasized the importance of composition–which signifies the arrangement of shapes and colours. His ideas led her to explore and develop her style – a combination of abstract and realistic.
This female painter is known for her unique way of painting nature by simplifying its shapes and forms. O’Keeffe soon gained respect in New York’s art world and came to be known as a pioneer.
“To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.” - Georgia O’Keeffe
Hilma af Klint (1862-1944)
She is a pioneer of abstract painting; this Swedish artist became widely recognized after a survey hosted by The Guggenheim Museum.
Her paintings are recognized for their unlikeness; bold, colourful, and untethered from any recognizable references to the physical world.
Klint lived a double life as an artist, she took classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm and made her living through typical paintings of landscapes and other realistic themes.
This famous female painter’s greatest works were kept private for most of her life and stayed hidden until 20 years after her death. She rarely exhibited her paintings, saying, that the world wasn’t ready to understand her art.
Her artworks were produced decades before Wassily Kandinsky and his contemporaries Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, who were widely believed to be the first ones to produce a truly abstract painting. Klint’s works are a combination of geometry, symbolism, figuration, language, scientific research, and religion. Her paintings were typically large, which encouraged her viewers to envelop themselves in the emotional mood of the painting.
The viewers are set into a meditative state, letting them blend their reality with imagination.
“Life, is a farce if a person does not serve truth.” - Hilma af Klint
Mira Schendel (1919-1988)
A Swiss-born Latin American artist, Maria Schendel, is one of the most significant and prolific post-war female painters.
Maria is a self-taught artist, who was uninfluenced by other painters, nor did she have ties to any specific school or movement.
Her artistic style was constantly developing throughout her life, experimenting with different styles –having the freedom of a fluid form of thought and pushing the limits of the style and work itself.
She moved from Italy and in 1949 she established herself in Brazil, which was undergoing cultural change; allowing Maria to indulge herself amid a vibrant scene of artists and intellectuals. As her work moves towards abstraction, she questions the profound relationship between human existence and belief.
Often addressing the difference between faith and certainty, and assessing ideas of being, existence, and the void.
Her artwork is just sublime. They are simple in their complexity, delicately restrained, and exquisite.
“I was a liberated woman long before there was a name for it.” - Peggy Guggenheim