This month we re-visit some of the most powerful women in the world of art.

Judith slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi 1593 - 1656

Artemisia Gentileschi was renowned for her ability to manipulate light and dark in her paintings. This is a technique also used by Caravaggio known as chiaroscuro.

Gentileschi painted females as the dominant figures in her work. This was very different from the norm of the seventeenth century, where women were usually depicted as sensitive and timid characters. Also known as the ‘Baroque Genius’, Gentileschi devoted her art and life to fighting for respect as a woman – a subject that was extremely personal to her as a young painter who was abused and later pushed into a forced marriage.


Repetition Nineteen III by Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse 1936 - 1970

Eva Hesse is one of the most influential artists from the twentieth century. As one of the first artists to introduce the post-minimal style after the minimal movement of the 1960’s, her installations are constantly referred to as a source of inspiration for many current artists.

Hesse’s work is often described as ‘anti-form’ and celebrates organic-shaped, tactile sculptures that are so far away from the harsh, rigid lines of the Minimalist movement.

Famous for the use of latex in her work, Hesse used other synthetic materials with a very limited colour palette such as fiberglass and various plastics.

Although Hesse took no political stance in her artwork, she was seen as an inspiration to the Feminist art movement as a successful female artist in a male-dominated world.

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird by Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo 1907 – 1954

Perhaps one of the most recognisable faces in twentieth century art, this is one of the many self-portraits of Frida Kahlo.

Dubbed as a surrealist painter, Kahlo specialised in portraying herself in her art. Kahlo did not believe herself to be a surrealist as she insisted that she did not paint dreams, but her reality. She is known to have said, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” 

Her 140 paintings are symbolic depictions of the psychological and physical wounds throughout her life after a severe bus accident when she was 18 years old. This resulted in life-long surgeries and procedures.

Friends with other surrealists such as Pablo Picasso, Kahlo was also admired and revisited during the Feminist movement of the 1970’s as an icon of female creativity.

Ram's Head with Hollyhock by Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe 1887 – 1986

“The men liked to put me down as put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters.”

Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. Her paintings of skulls and desert terrains were created at the time of the American modernist movement. This involved art that looked at the regional aspects of America and moved away from the large, industrial cityscapes.

O’Keeffe captured the dry desert landscape of her home in New Mexico in a simplified style that has a very personal representation to it. She also painted a series of flowers and mountain landscapes of Mount Fuji and Peru.

Despite being almost completely blind at the end of her life, O’Keeffe continued to paint with the help of some assistants. At ninety years old, she commented, “I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.”