On the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day, I invite you to explore the universe of 5 women who have marked the history of art. These female artists have left a true imprint on time by shining with their audacity, their genius and their desire to impose themselves in a world that was supposedly not meant for them. Whether they are painters, visual artists, photographers, impressionists, rococo or modern art enthusiasts, they certainly leave an indelible memory.
#1 Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun
Born in 1755, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun is one of the greatest portrait artists of her time. His self-portraits reveal a lot about his personality. Simple woman, with a bohemian style and not relying on fashion addictions. She brilliantly pursued her artistic career in a period when women were almost non-existent in the art world.
She painted with a constant concern for idealization, giving each of her female models a particular grace and elegance. In the representation of men, the result was not the same. The artist seemed to abandon the erasure of the roughness, for a less flattering result. A way for her to give women the upper hand!
#2 Frida Kahlo
It is impossible to talk about the women who have marked the history of art without mentioning Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist born in 1907. As a child, she was struck by polio, a disease that earned her the nickname of “the little lame girl”. At the age of 18, on her way home from art school, the bus she was on violently hit a streetcar. An iron bar seriously injured the artist, leaving serious after-effects. What saved her? The painting.
Her works carry within them the pain of a young artist who nevertheless continued to enjoy the pleasures of life despite the tumultuous relationship she had with Diego Rivera. It is in her bed and in front of her reflection that she painted most of her works, self-portraits. She has also been very involved in the evolution of the status of women and the emancipation of women.
#3 Niki de Saint Phalle
Undoubtedly one of the most outstanding artists of the mid-20th century. Niki de Saint Phalle learned painting on her own after a traumatic event when she was only 11 years old. After a stay in a psychiatric hospital, she realized that the path to follow was that of art. As if to extricate herself from her psychological violence and a heavy burden to bear, she created a performance entitled The draw tables during which spectators are invited to shoot pictures with a rifle to bring out the colours.
His world is not only dark. It is also embellished with colours, joy and a childish spirit, inspired by Gaudi, Dubuffet and Pollock, among others. His work has been able to occupy public space, as shown by the Igor Stravinsky Fountain in Paris and the Tarot Garden in Tuscany.
#4 Artemisia Gentileschi
Born in 1593 in Rome, Artemisia Gentileshi was introduced to painting by her father when she was still a child. At 17, she wrote her first work entitledSuzanne and the elderlyBut it is possible that the real author is his father, Orazio Gentileschi, a well-known painter and close friend of Caravaggio. The young artist’s existence took a turn when she was the victim of an attack by a collaborator of her father.
In the Work of Artemisia, the painted characters are mainly women. She will always reject the status of victim, brilliant by her talent and the myth that surrounds her characters, strong women, heroines. She managed the feat – for a woman – of enrolling at the Academy of Drawing in Florence. According to Roberto Longhi, an Italian art critic of the early 20th century, “Artemisia was the only woman in Italy who knew what painting was” (Gentileschi padre e fligia, 1916)
#5 Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman did not intend to make great art, yet she is one of the greatest photographers of contemporary art. His many series of self-portraits provide us with a critique of postmodernity. The history of art is never far away since it appears as a model in a series of self-portraits featuring large paintings.
By regularly staging herself, this American artist born in 1954 sometimes plays a pulpy blonde or a housewife by radically disguising herself with make-up, clothes, wigs, sometimes even prostheses. It points to the stereotypes and diktats women face in relation to film, fashion, advertising and pornography. Cindy Sherman goes further by questioning our true identity. What if we play a part too?