This month we celebrate women’s contributions in all fields of history, culture and society. Here are 5 extraordinary women, who have inspired millions of viewers and shaped the art world over decades – all in their own unique way.
„Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) not only achieved success in her life-time but today numbers alongside Georgia O’Keefe, Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Saville as one of the most expensive female artists at auction.“ (Sotheby’s.)
The Russian painter who was born and raised in Moscow was a prime example of an avant-garde artist who did not merely follow the course of art history but changed it.
STREET IN MOSCOW, 1909 by Natalia Goncharova, sold for 6,354,500 USD at a Sotheby's auction in 2011 © Goncharova via Sotheby's
Moving from Moscow to Paris, standing at the crossroads between East and West, poised between international and national aesthetics, she was among the first Russian artists to incorporate the ideas of French cubism and Italian futurism.
© Natalia Goncharova via Sotheby's
„Revolutionary, independent, transgressive, Goncharova was often scapegoated and attacked by the Russian press as a symbol of moral decay and degradation.“ (Sotheby’s)
Throughout her long career, Goncharova never stopped experimenting with styles, ideas, techniques, and forms. Russianness remained at the core of her identity even after she moved to France, where she collaborated with the Ballets Russes and entered the world of high fashion: in the 1920s she was appointed designer at the couture house Myrbor, and today her designs can be found in major Museums, like the MoMA in New York.
“Today Natalia Goncharova’s oeuvre forms an integral part of the history of international modernism, and her works can be found in the collections of the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre George Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Gallery in London.“ (Sotheby’s)
Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) was a American sculptor (born as Leah Berliawsky in the Russian Empire, now Ukraine), which has spent most of her work life in New York. Her works mostly are monochromatic wooden assemblages, created from unique arrangements of a range of found objects such as woodcuts or bits of furniture which she framed up and then covered in a black, white, or golden painted uniform.
Sculptor Louise Nevelson photographed in her New York City studio in 1983. (© Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)
“I think most artists create out of despair. The very nature of creation is not a performing glory on the outside, it’s a painful, difficult search within.” Nevelson said (via artnet)
Untitled, ca. 1977 by Louise Nevelson © Sotheby's New YorkLOUISE NEVELSON / SOTHEBY'S NEW YORK
The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York gave the artist her first retrospective in 1967. Today, her works are held in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, among others.
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits and a life of pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors. She is celebrated in Mexico for her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and by feminists for her depiction of the female experience and form. In her brief lifetime (1907-1954) Frida Kahlo achieved celebrity status, that extended far beyond Mexico’s borders, although nothing like the cult status that would eventually make her the mother of the selfie, her indelible image recognizable everywhere.
"Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress" 1926 by Frida Kahlo, one of her earliest works. © COURTESY OF FRIDAKAHLO.ORG
Life experience is a common theme in Kahlo’s over 200 paintings, sketches and drawings. Her physical and emotional pain are depicted starkly on canvases, as is her turbulent relationship with her husband, fellow artist Diego Rivera, who she married twice. Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits.
At the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, her personal belongings are on display throughout the house, as if she still lived there. It’s among the most visited museums in Mexico City.
““Feet, what do I need them for. If I have wings to fly.” (Frida Kahlo)
“The Russian performance artist has been pushing past perceived limits of the body and mind, and exploring the complex relationship between artist and audience, through performances that challenge both herself and, in many instances, participants emotionally, intellectually, and physically.” (MoMA New York)
The now 75 year old artist very often uses her body to convey the ideas of her concepts, which she has already practiced since childhood. Her belief was that she wouldn’t need a studio to create art, she could make art “with everything” if the concept is right – and so she did.
“This was the beginning of my performance art. And the first time I put my body in front of (an) audience, I understood: this is my media.” (Marina Abramovic via MoMA New York.)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Marina Abramovic attends the 2018 Party in the Garden at Museum of Modern Art on May 31, 2018 in New York City. (©Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
“In 2010 at MoMA, Abramović engaged in an extended performance called, The Artist Is Present. The work was inspired by her belief that stretching the length of a performance beyond expectations serves to alter our perception of time and foster a deeper engagement in the experience. Seated silently at a wooden table across from an empty chair, she waited as people took turns sitting in the chair and locking eyes with her. Over the course of nearly three months, for eight hours a day, she met the gaze of 1,000 strangers, many of whom were moved to tears.” (MoMA New York)
NEW YORK - MARCH 09: Artist Marina Abramovic (R) performs during the "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present" exhibition opening night party at The Museum of Modern Art on March 9, 2010 in New York City. (©Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage) ***
“Nobody could imagine…that anybody would take time to sit and just engage in mutual gaze with me,” Abramović explained. In fact, the chair was always occupied, and there were continuous lines of people waiting to sit in it. “It was (a) complete surprise…this enormous need of humans to actually have contact.” (MoMA New York
The British artist (born in 1963) is known for sexually provocative, intimate and very open works which spark not only curiosity but also debates. Spanning from drawings, tapestries, embroidery, film over bronze sculptures, wooden constructions to neon signs, the latter are the most popular and famous ones in today’s contemporary art world.
Sometimes There is no Tomorrow , 2007, Self-portrait of Tracey Emin by Tracey Emin © TRACEY EMIN STUDIO, ARTNET
„Personal monologue is an important thread which runs through all her work. Despite the variety, she consistently maintains a quality to her work which makes it clearly hers.“ (Tate Modern)
Emin on Gender Equality in the art world: „You’ve got more female artists now, who have much higher profiles. But that’s only been over the past 50 years, so we need another 150 years to get the same situation and it’ll be equal for men and women in the art world.“ (Tracey Emin, Stylist.co.uk, 2015)
Something Good, 2017 by Tracey Emin ©TRACEY EMIN STUDIO / ARTNET
Her works are exhibited at many of the major art shows and best museums in the world, such as her recent exhibition (alongside curated works of Edvard Munch) at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
Read the article on www.forbes.com/sites/neloliviawaga
Founded in 2014, re-launched in 2019 – by Nel-Olivia Waga. It is an international luxury lifestyle blog, that features stories under the aspect of a conscious mindset. It collaborates with leading brands and specialists who share the idea of generating a positive impact in the world. Based in Zurich and London, it covers local hotspots and global trends around sustainability, innovation, well-being, health, beauty, travel, time, art, business and charity.
Nel-Olivia Waga is the Founder & Publisher of HER/etiquette. She is a Brand Consultant, an Author and Entrepreneur, most passionate about well-being, travel, nature and art. Her work can regularly be seen in her column on FORBES. Her consultancy YMPACT LAB, creates innovative marketing projects for luxury brands based on passion, purpose and sustainable impact.
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