Aasof on Female Art


This week on Facebook: The voting system used by Ranker suggests that female authors are remembered better than female artists (I wonder how many can name famous female authors prior to the 19th century?).

The word painters is used instead of artist to identify (in this case) female artists from those to whom a much wider genre is generally applied to the word ‘artist‘.

If the following seems an homage to the now ‘famous’ feminist art historian Linda Nochlin who changed the art world with her 1971 essay in which she asked, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists”?¹ Perhaps it can be read as such!

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Ranker lists famous female painters: 

This list of famous female painters is ranked by their level of prominence, with photos when available. This greatest female painters list contains the most prominent women artists known for being painters, though they may have dabbled in other mediums as well. Art buffs might also be interested in famous female paintings and celebrities who are secretly artist. There are thousands of female artists working as painters in the world, but this list highlights only the most notable ones. Famous female artists have worked hard to become the best that they can be, so if you’re a girl aspiring to be a painter then the women painters below should give you inspiration. 

While the greatest painters of all time (both male and female) has been ranked by a vote, it’s only at number 19 the name of a female appears in the list. I wonder if a Georgia O’Keeffe (number 19) original would be worth more than a Whistler (number 20) or a Frida Kahlo (number 21). In terms of ‘ranking’ there may be a clue in that famous female authors and the greatest painters of all time, were ‘ranked’ according to votes cast, but not famous female painters.

I suspect that art (a painting) is given a marketable value, which in this case is attributed to any work of the painter. I would claim that in numbers 1 to 18 (in the above paragraph), it was the notional marketable value that influenced the voting more than the painter’s artistic merit or knowledge of contemporary female painters.

The following articles mostly give credit to the feminist art historian Linda Nochlin, whose pictorial biography has been included². They are mainly written (apart from Tuesday’s) with a strong bias towards Western culture in female art but even so, any art critique has — until now — been a male dominated domain. That is until Nochlin’s 1971 essay, which heralded a new era in the critique of female painters in a historic and a contemporary female art context.


(Monday) The Great Women Artists That History Forgot: “Why have there been no great women artists?” the feminist art historian Linda Nochlin famously asked in her landmark 1971 essay. The point was of course that there had been, but centuries of misogyny in the art world meant if you looked at museum collections and exhibition programmes you really wouldn’t know it.

(Tuesday) Ten Female Artists You Should Know About: The essay Nochlin was writing changed art history as the world knew it. The driving force of her academic career was to end the obfuscation of women in art as creators and critics. In the spirit of her work, we’ve put together a selection of female artists from around the world that deserve more attention.

(Wednesday) Famous Female Painters You Need to Know: Throughout the centuries, women have been making fascinating works of art but often remained in the shadows of their male counterparts. Many famous female painters of today had to fight against gender biases and opposition from the chroniclers of the art history. From various training and education restrictions to difficulties in selling their work and gaining recognition woman had to face many challenges on their way to stardom. And yet somehow they managed to gain the recognition they deserved and secure their place in art history. Despite numerous obstacles still present today, Contemporary art has more than its fair share of famous female painters.

(Thursday) Famous Female Painters – 5 Incredible Women Artists That You Need To Know: Find inspiration in the stories of these 5 incredible women artists. While there are many amazing women artists from the past, the following represent artistic vision, passion and success.

(Friday) “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” — A Case Study: It’s easy for the average person to name one or two famous artists throughout history. Most can probably even manage nine or ten. But specify female artists, and things get a lot more difficult. Even when people can name a few female artists, there’s usually only a small repertoire that gets repeated over and over: Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Cassatt, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Marina Abramović.


¹ ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ ( internet Archive pdf/epub): While the recent upsurge of feminist activity in this country has indeed been a liberating one, its force has been chiefly emotional—personal, psychological and subjective—entered, like the other radical movements to which it is related, on the present and its immediate needs, rather than on historical analysis of the basic intellectual issues which the feminist attack on the status quo automatically raises. Like any revolution, however, the feminist one ultimately must come to grips with the intellectual and ideological basis of the various intellectual or scholarly disciplines—history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, etc.—in the same way that it questions the ideologies of present social institutions.

²A Long Read (with pictures) — click image below: Nochlin’s essay has been described as, ‘A dramatic feminist rallying cry. This canonical essay precipitated a paradigm shift within the discipline of art history’. 

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This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

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The Real Economy

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