As part of Women’s History Month, we’re offering a week of #5WomenArtists, inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. We asked some women of Swann to tell us about their five favorite female artists.
Though little-known throughout her short life, Paula Modersohn-Becker was hugely influential in the field of early German expressionism. Recently, she is becoming recognized as the both first modern female painter to create nude self portraits, and to create portraits of pregnancy, which at the turn of the twentieth century was unprecedented. She imbued her depictions of femininity with an innate strength, which was also revolutionary at the time.
Paula Modersohn-Becker, Self Portrait on her Sixth Wedding Anniversary, 1906. Courtesy of The Paris Review.
I’ve been obsessed with Yiadom-Boakye since I first saw her work at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Her striking portraits of African American subjects are so grounded in art historical tradition, you could even call them Manet-esque, yet completely novel, as each of them are figments of her imagination. Her large scale paintings are both gorgeously poetic and thought-provoking.
Minter is a true trailblazer who has mastered a number of media: photography, painting and video, to name a few. She has always advocated as a feminist throughout her career, and is perhaps best known for her portraits that subvert the typical, too-perfect and airbrushed representation of women we see in the media by showing them with pimples, smudged makeup and the other little imperfections that make someone’s face interesting. Her show at the Brooklyn Museum, Pretty/Dirty, was particularly inspiring to me!
Marilyn Minter, Pop Rocks, enamel on metal, 2009. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.
Wangechi Mutu is a Kenyan artist who has been working and living in New York City since the ’90s. Like Minter, Mutu uses a variety of media such as collage, sculpture, performance and video to explore questions of self-image, gender constructs and cultural trauma. Her collages draw from a number of sources–both pop cultural and art historical–to create figures that are both sophisticated and perverse, and challenge our expectations as viewers.
Wangechi Mutu, Mask, mixed media and collage, 2006. Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.
Yayoi Kusama has enjoyed a long and fruitful career, which began in the mid-1950s and continues to this day. Kusama came to the public’s attention when she organized a series of happenings in the 1960s in which naked participants were painted with polka dots. She continued to embrace this imagery throughout her career, as it can be seen in her pumpkin sculptures, that she sees as sort of alter-ego, and her large scale installations.