Prominent Women Artists Throughout History

 In MOA Features

Guest Post by, PR Intern

Throughout history, women have fought to have their voices heard and be treated equally. In examining women artists and their experiences, struggles, and talents, we may have a greater appreciation for the women who have influenced the art world to be what it is today. Enjoy this list of just a few of the important women artists throughout history and tell us your favorite!


1. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1653)
In the midst of an era where female artists had to fight to be taken seriously, Gentileschi was one of the greatest Italian baroque artists due to her immense talent and powerfully progressive messages.

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1653), Self-Portrait as a Female Martyr, 1615, oil on wood, 12.4 in x 9.7 in. Uffizi, Florence Collection.

2. Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755 – 1842)
This completely self-taught French artist was praised for her natural portraits of women. When Vigée Le Brun was forced to flee Paris during the Revolution, she utilized that time to gain commissions throughout Europe.

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755 – 1842), Marie Antionette and Her Children, 1787, oil on canvas, 108 1/4 in. × 85 1/4 in. Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon (MV 4520).

3. Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest female painters of the 19th century, Rosa was a talented woman who was able to imitate the real world with extreme accuracy.

Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899), Ploughing Scene, 1854, oil on canvas, 31.6 in. × 43.7 in. Walters Art Museum, Acquired by Henry Walters, after 1929.

4. Edmonia Lewis (1843-1907)
This woman grew up in an era where slavery was still legal in the United States. She was the first African American woman who earned worldwide recognition as a sculptor.

Edmonia Lewis (1843 – 1907), Hiawatha, 1868, marble, 13 3/4 in × 7 3/4 in × 5 1/2 in. Morris K. Jesup and Friends of the American Wing Funds, 2015.

5. Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Confronting identity and self, Frida Kahlo is best known for her self portraits and Surrealist approach to reality.

Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954), Self Portrait with Bonito, 1941, oil on canvas, 55 in × 43.5 in. Private Collection, USA.

6. Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011)
Inspired by color theory, Frankenthaler broke through the male dominated Abstract Expressionist movement with her innovative color field painting.

Helen Frankenthaler (1928 – 2011), 50 Works on Paper, 1941, gouache on cardstock, 6.5 in × 3.5 in.

7. Yayoi Kusama (1929 – Present)
The avant-garde art scene in the 60’s wouldn’t be the same without Kusama’s boundary-pushing installations and performances. Dots Obsession, a series of installations including polka dots and sculpture, include some of her most famous pieces.

Yayoi Kusama (1929 – Present), Dots Obsession, 1997, paint, balloons, mirrors, Rice Gallery, Houston, TX.

8. Judy Chicago (1939 – Present)
Judy Chicago is perhaps best known for her installation, The Dinner Party (1974-1979), which commemorates over 1,000 iconic women in history.

Judy Chicago (1939 – Present). The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in., Brooklyn Museum; Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago.

9. Adrian Piper (1948 – Present)
Piper is a well-known conceptual performance artist, who focused her talents on social commentary. One of her more famous pieces, My Calling (Card) #1, reads, “”Dear Friend/ I am black./ I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that racist remark,”

Adrian Piper (1948 – Present), What It’s Like, What It Is #3, 1991, video installation. Video (color, sound), constructed wood environment, four monitors, mirrors, and lighting, dimensions variable, Installation view in Dislocations, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 20, 1991–January 7, 1992. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired in part through the generosity of Lonti Ebers, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, Candace King Weir, and Lévy Gorvy Gallery, and with support from The Modern Women’s Fund. © Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin


There is no way to list all of the amazing women artists that have contributed to the art world. Not only are there countless known artists, but countless unknown names as well. Many women have contributed to the art world, yet remain nameless because their work was not celebrated or recognized at the time simply due to their gender. We invite you to become familiar with these names and support your local women artists. You will undoubtedly find a new woman to add to your list of favorite artists as you visit “A Studio of Her Own: Women in the Collection!

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