Originally Posted March 1, 2022
Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women Artists and Their Art
It’s March, and that means we are celebrating Women’s History Month at CAGOnline. As we take the time to appreciate and note the amazing achievements of women, it’s important to note the major contributions women have made to the world of fine art.
While much of the history of Western art has included the exclusion of women, they were always at the forefront of new movements, and their keen eye and critical abilities made them powerful, though underrepresented, voices.
Despite their marginalization, female artists and curators could not be silenced. That tradition of braving new territory and making their voices be heard continues today.
Below, we’ve gathered just a few great women artists from history and today.
Mary Cassatt’s Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878
Mary Cassatt (1844 to 1926) was, in a word, fearless. An outspoken suffragist and an artist, she left Pennsylvania to live most of her life in France, becoming a leading painter in the Impressionist movement.
After being forbidden in art school to paint nude models, due to her being a young woman, Cassatt left for Europe to study on her own.
Her career saw her focus on a realm of life all too absent from the halls of most galleries — the familial, the tender, the feminine. Though some of her work might seem antiquated now that women have fought for inclusion in the wider world, at the time their lives went mostly undocumented. Cassatt changed that with her luminous paintings that showed a side of humanity that wasn’t given a voice at the time.
Her mastery of color and distinct ability to grasp the emotions and psychological dimensions of any scene have made her work an enduring phenomenon of artistic perception.
Yayoi Kusama Dots Obsession 1997
Yayoi Kusama (1929) is an artist whose work spans many mediums, but her sculptures and installations are what have made her one of the biggest names in contemporary art.
She rose to prominence in the 1960s, as part of the burgeoning counterculture. It was here that she began with several motifs — like her famous polka dots — as she decorated nude bodies of participants in happenings.
Kusama is probably best known for her Infinity Rooms. These installations have colorful light balls hanging from the ceiling of dark rooms where every surface is a mirror. To stand in one of these is to feel as if you are floating in an infinite space of color.
She has also made public sculpture for commissions around the world, with work appearing on nearly every continent.
Barbara Kruger’s installation at ACCA, Melbourne 2004
Barbara Kruger (1945) is a collagist and conceptual artist whose striking, graphic visual style has made her aesthetic universally recognized.
Much of her work is made up of collages featuring black-and-white photographs with bold, san serif lettering placed over red bands. These statements are often confrontational and critical of sexual mores, consumer capitalism, and other social conditions. She has also created many typographic based installations (as pictured above).
In 2009, she was included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s The Picture Generation — solidifying her legacy as one of the most important artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.