The origins of some of the most important artistic movements can be traced back to female artists. Whether they left behind inspiring self portraiture, or made a bold feminist statement, they left a lasting mark on our society today.
Here are 4 female artists who undeniably left their mark on art history and are recognized as icons among the artistic community.
Agnes Martin categorized her works as Abstract Expressionism. She is known as one of the most influential artists of her generation and according to the Pace Gallery, “her oeuvre played a critical role in heralding the advent of Minimalism”. Agnes Martin’s paintings included graphite lines, muted colors, geometric shapes and grids.
In 1963, Martin created Falling Blue, a famous painting during an important year during which she created many grids artwork, as per The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Her work has had a significant influence on artists of her time and subsequent generations.
Bridget Riley’s artwork contributed to Op art by exploring optical illusions and visual experiences. The Collector affirms that her paintings became “a famous example in the 1960s”.
Geometric forms, high contrast, dizzying optical illusions, black and white shapes, and vibrant colors characterized her art. Bridget Riley’s oeuvre Blaze is an example of how she created art for the viewer to interact with.
Her work even echoed across popular culture in the 1960s and designers collaborated with her for fabrics and posters. Even today, optical illusions remain present in modern art.
Frida Kahlo needs no introduction. Her name is as renowned as her many self-portraits. Her use of bold and vibrant colors, as well as the pain and passion from her own life experience in her artwork, is still discussed.
The Broken Column is a good example. Kahlo started painting self-portraits after being injured in a bus accident. The Two Fridas, one of our favourite portraits, was also deeply personal. It was painted after her divorce from Diego Rivera.
Among many meaningful Frida Kahlo quotes, the artist said: “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality”. Thus, the life stories she left in her paintings are still inspiring women all over the world.
Read about a biographical exhibit in Montreal which was a testament to this resilient woman overcoming many obstacles.
Questions raised by Francesca Woodman’s photographs are still explored by society, especially young people. The artist, who tragically took her life after a failed relationship in 1981 at the age of 22, photographed herself mostly nude and in empty spaces where specific elements partly hide her body.
She was an important figure as an innovator, and according to Tate: “She led the way for later American artists who used photography to explore themes relating to identity such as Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin.”
Her artworks, which can be found in many Francesca Woodman’s photography books “are continuously reinterpreted through themes of femininity, otherness, sexually, and psychological analysis”, writes Carolina Sanmiguel for The Collector. Relationships, gender, questions of self and body image are also part of her oeuvre.
You can also take a look at how women inspired Milos Reindl himself by exploring The Other Sex collection.
Written by Vicky Girard