March is Women’s History Month and I thought we should celebrate the genius of women artists. Historically overlooked female artists are currently a hot topic in museums, galleries and the art market. Many are just gaining recognition now. Building a more inclusive art world begins with recognizing female artists who are captivating the art world with dazzling and provocative work. Therefore, I will focus on 6 amazing, contemporary female artists whose work you should see in person.
Vija Celmins was born in Latvia before coming to the United States as a small child. She is best know for her photo-realistic paintings and drawings. Though her early career work consisted mainly of pop sculptures and monochromatic representational paintings, Celmin's work has evolved to her better know pieces of natural environments such as oceans, spider webs, star fields, and rocks. Celmin's has enjoyed more than forty solo exhibitions at such major venues as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Beatriz Milhazes is a Brazilian-born painter who has become well-known for her work juxtaposing traditional South American culture with that of western modernism. Swirling with geometric and arabesque shapes, Milhazes’s works are kaleidoscopic, inspired by both Brazilian and Modernist European design elements. Since graduating from the School of Visual Arts in Rio de Janeiro, Milhazes has enjoyed solo and group exhibitions in museums all over the world, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. Her work is also part of the permanent collections of such institutions as the the Guggenheim, MoMA, the Banco Itau, and the Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia.
Alyssa Monks, after graduating from such prestigious programs as the Lorenzo de’ Medici art school and the New York Academy of Art’s Graduate School of Figurative Art, has become one of the leading forces in subject painting. Says Monks, “My intention is to transfer the intimacy and vulnerability of my human experience into a painted surface.” Monks’ paintings have been the subject of numerous exhibitions everywhere from Germany, to Georgia, to New York City. She has been awarded the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant for Painting an incredible three times, and has become a member of the New York Academy of Art’s Board of Trustees.
Wangechi Mutu is a Kenyan-born artist and sculptor based in Brooklyn, NY. Mutu is widely considered to be the most important African artist in recent years. Noted for her work conflating gender, race, art history, and personal identity. Creating complex collages, videos, sculptures, and performances, Mutu’s work features recurring mysterious leitmotifs such as masked women and snake-like tendrils. Her work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions worldwide, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Miami Art Museum, the Tate Modern, and the Centre Pompidou, among many others. In 2010, Mutu was honored as Deutsche Bank’s inaugural “Artist of the Year.”
Shirin Neshat is an artist who was born in Iran in 1957. Neshat traveled to California to study and received her BA, BS and MA. She moved to New York City to get married and didn’t return to her birth country until after the Iranian Revolution. The shock of seeing her country so changed by religion, especially in people’s dress and public behaviors, sparked her first mature body of work. She also created movies and short films and in 1999 won the International Award at the Venice Biennial. Her work usually shows the complexity of certain oppositions, such as black and white or man and woman, and sparks conversations about social, cultural and religious codes of human behavior.
Rachel Whiteread is a London-based sculptor, whose work usually takes the form of casets of everyday objects such as a table and chairs, architectural details, and even entire rooms and buildings. In fact, some of her best know pieces include "House", a large concrete cast of the inside of an entire Victorian house; the holocaust memorial sculpture for the empty plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. Whiteread is one of the Young British Artists, and was the first woman to win the annual Turner Prize, which she was awarded in 1993.