In honour of Women…

A closer look at some of the top ranked female artists.

In honour of International women’s day this week, we will share a selection of leading female artists from around the world. The day is officially celebrated on the 8th March every year, but the way we see it, until we’re celebrating women for at least half of the days of the year, we’re not equal. So may this be taken as a new day of appreciation and respect deservedly directed.

Of the 100 top ranked artists on Artfacts only 22 are women, and not a single one was born before the 20th century. When we consider that only a small number of female artists made it into the broader public eye, we can but imagine all of the incredible work by women that we’ve never had the privilege of experiencing.

Keeping it simple as the work speaks for itself, today we want to recognise great art that just so happens to have been made by some amazing women, all of whom are ranked in our top 100 female artists.

Shilpa Gupta (b.1976)
Ranked 246 globally, 2 in India.

Shilpa Gupta, For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit, 2017 – 2018, Sound Installation with 100 speakers, microphones, printed text and metal stands

Gupta explores perception; the physical and ideological boundaries we limit ourselves to, or are limited by. She does this in her multidisciplinary practice by utilising text, sculpture, video, photography and sound.

Gupta’s recent exhibition; Sun at Night, presented at The Curve in the Barbican Centre, London, expanded on her 2017/2018 project; For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit, and is a poignant exploration of censorship. The installation consists of 100 microphones, each dangling above a metal spike, which is pierced into a page that contains a verse of poetry by a poet incarcerated for their work, writings, or beliefs. The installation allows the viewer to wander between the spikes as the words of different poets are whispered into their ears, sometimes becoming a roaring chorus.

Chiharu Shiota (b.1972)
Ranked 256 globally, 7 in Japan.

Shiota is known for her stunning large-scale, room-spanning installations which combine red, black or white thread and common objects. The installations are cinematic in their feel and expansiveness. She has an aptitude for creating work that is both moving and accessible in it’s explorative representation of concentrated concepts.

Chiharu Shiota, Accumulation: Searching for the Destinationt, 2016, old suticases, red string Art, Unlimited | Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland represented by Galerie Templon

A perfect example of this is; Accumulation: Searching for the Destination (2014-2016), which employs hundreds of oscillating suitcases that hang from red thread. In it, life’s great journey and it’s uncertainty, memory, and migration are all clearly evoked.

Mickalene Thomas (b.1971)
Ranked 333 globally, 93 in the United States.

Thomas offers a contemporary vision of female sexuality, beauty, and power through her paintings, collages, photography, video, and installations. She draws on art history and popular culture to create these offerings. She reimagines the paintings of historic greats, especially those that depict white female nudes, and replaces them with empowered Black protagonists.

Mickalene Thomas, Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe: Les trois femmes noires, 2010, color photograph and paper collage on cardboard; 9.25 x 11.5 inches courtesy Mickalene Thomas

In reference to this, she states: “To see yourself and for others to see you, is a form of validation”. Her paintings employ rhinestones, collage, acrylic paint, and enamel to achieve her recognisable style. It’s hard to choose just one from her amazing collection, but Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: les trois femmes noires, 2010 perfectly exemplifies this approach, and has stolen our heart.

Birgit Jürgenssen (b.1949, d.2003)
Ranked 365 Globally, 14 in Austria.

Jürgenssen’s feminist-driven work used performance, photography, drawing and sculpture to explore the female body, and to undermine cliches of gender representation, sterotyping and the domestication of women.

Birgit Jürgenssen, Hausfrauen – Küchenschürze / Houswives’ Kitchen Apron, 1975, b/w photographs each 39,3 x 27,5 cm

Hausfrauen – Küchenschürze / Housewives’ Kitchen Apron, 1975, where she constructed an apron-oven is a perfect example of her playful exploration of these themes. She was also a founding member of the female feminist artist’s collective DIE DAMEN (THE LADIES) and she actively fought for the recognition of female artists.

In a 1974 letter where Jürgenssen asked the DuMont publishing company to publish a piece on female artists (which was rejected) she states: “So often the woman is an art object, rarely and reluctantly she is able to speak or show (her work) up. I for once would like to have the possibility to compare myself not just to my male, but also to my female colleagues.” For the upcoming 59th Venice Biennale, Jürgenssen’s oeuvre will be shown under the title “The Milk of Dreams”, make sure you check out this wonderful artist’s collection who has sadly only been more widely recognised posthumously.

Today we’ve only touched on the work of these artists, they each have ample impressive exhibitions, artworks and a fascinating career trajectory, to explore in more depth on Artfacts.

These incredible women make up just four out of our top 100 female artists on Artfacts, where each one is as fascinating as the last. They represent but a drop in an ocean full of talented, passionate, powerful women creatives documented in our database.

Another great way you can search and discover female artists is on our sister app Limna: choose the ‘Discovery‘ tab when you open the app and then refine the “Filters” with “Female” (and any other factors that interest you, such as age), tap the “Discover Artists” button and that’s it! May you happily scroll your way to new discoveries.

May the creative work of women be more widely represented, recognised, exhibited, purchased and celebrated.

Let’s make history happen.

The Artfacts Team

Headerimage created by Stacey Gabrielle Koenitz Rozells, found on Pexels