March is Women’s History Month. Here at Multicultural Kid Blogs, we’ll be celebrating all month with fantastic posts from contributors all over the world. To start off the series, let’s learn about seven influential women artists. These women are from Europe, the Americas, Australia, Asia and Africa.
Come travel the globe to meet these amazing women artists!
1. Suzanne Valadon
2. Georgia O’Keeffe
3. Frida Kahlo
4. Queenie McKenzie
5. Yayoi Kusamen
6. Shirin Neshat
7. Tracy Rose
Women Artists from Around the World
France – Suzanne Valadon
Suzanne Valadon was a French painter who started life as a Marie-Clémentine in 1865. She was renamed Suzanne by the famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whom she modeled for regularly. She also posed for Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, among others. She taught herself how to paint at the age of nine before starting a variety of jobs, including being a trapeze artist, before a fall at the age of 16 ended her career. She modeled for ten years before turning to painting still lifes, portraits, flowers, and landscapes that are noted for their strong composition and vibrant colors.
Valadon helped to educate herself in art by reading Toulouse-Lautrec’s books and observing the artists for whom she posed. She was the first woman to be accepted to the French Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1894. She passed away in 1938 at the age of 72 and Pablo Picasso, among other famous artists, attended her funeral.
United States of America – Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887 to a family of seven on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. She decided at the age of 10 she was going to be an artist and went on to get her education from both the Art Institute in Chicago and Art Students League in New York.
She took a break from painting and started her career as a commercial artist in Chicago before taking up painting again in 1912. She moved around the United States for awhile, attending teaching colleges and student teaching, living in Virgina, South Carolina and New York before finally settling as head of the art department of West Texas A&M University. She was married to the famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who first met her after he exhibited her early work at his 291 art gallery.
While she had always been known for her flowers, New York skylines and landscapes, it was her love of making large-scale paintings of natural forms at close range, as if seen through a magnifying len that really highlighted her excellence as a painter and made her one of the most well-know women artists. It gave her the name “Mother of American modernism.” When she lost most of her eyesight in her later years and was unable to paint, she learned how to work with clay. O’Keeffe passed away in 1986 at the age of 98.
Mexico – Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo is a Mexican artist known for her vibrant, colorful self portraits. She was born in 1907 and spent her childhood happy, living with many sisters. She was encouraged by her father at an early age to compete in sports to overcome a childhood bout with polio that left one leg shorter then the other.
Later, at the age of 18 Kahlo was in a bus accident that left her in bed for years and gave her a lifetime of pain. Her father gave her paints to help pass the time. She painted herself because she spent a lot of time alone, thus perfecting a naive quality in her work, being self-taught. Kahlo was also influenced by her Mexican heritage, which can sometimes be seen in her work.
Kahlo went on to marry the artist Diego Rivera, twice, and they had a very adventurous life, traveling the world and being very involved in their local political movements. She passed away in 1954, at the age of 47. It wasn’t until after her death that her work became more widely known and she became recognized among outstanding women artists. In 2010, the Bank of Mexico issued money with her artwork depicted on it.
Australia – Queenie McKenzie
Queenie McKenzie was born in 1920 and is considered one of the best contemporary Indigenous Australian artists. She was declared a “State Living Treasure” the year of her death in 1998. She studied at the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, which was established in the 1970s as a living, growing art center celebrating the uniqueness of Miriwoong cultural identity.
Queenie was never taken from her family as part of the official policy of assimilation. With no mission education, her background is truly that of a traditional Aboriginal, having spent her childhood being taught the practical knowledge of managing cattle and riding horses.
She would grow up to work with health and female service organizations before taking up painting in 1990. She used the natural earth pigments around her to create representative landscapes that have ended up in galleries and collections all over the world.
Japan – Yayoi Kusamen
Yayoi Kusamen is a Japanese artist who was born in 1927 to an upper middle class family who sent her to art school at a very young age. She learned the traditional painting of her ancestry, but became bored with the technique. She became interested in the work European and American painters were doing and decided to move to New York in 1957.
She started with painting, but soon moved to sculpture and installations pieces, often sharing gallery exhibit space with Andy Warhol. In fact, many in the art world acknowledged Kusamen’s influence on his work before she moved back to Japan in 1973.
She opened an art gallery but found the conservative lifestyle in Japan too mentally draining and admitted herself to a mental hospital in Shinjuku, Tokyo, where she still lives today. Her work encompassed pop art, minimalism and feminist art movements. She has exhibited all over the world and is known for her dotted, large landscapes. Her studio is a short distance from the hospital and she works there almost daily.
Iran – Shirin Neshat
Shirin Neshat is another of the influential women artists you should know. She is an artist who was born in Iran in 1957 to a wealthy Persian family of five children. Her father was a firm believer in education. He sent all the children all over the world in pursuit of higher education, so 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. She currently lives in New York City, New York.
South Africa – Tracey Rose
Tracey Rose, a South African artist born in 1974, is another of the women artists we are introducing. She was raised in Durban and went onto study at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and receive a Masters of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK. She has shown at the 2001 Venice Biennale and has had solo exhibitions in South Africa, as well as in Europe and the Americas.
Her work as a contemporary multimedia artist and feminist usually showcases her multicultural ancestry and her history growing up as a mixed race person in South Africa. Rose’s photos, illustrations and performances illustrate the disparities of her political and social landscape. She currently lives in Johannsburg, South Africa.
You may also be interested in reading the Top 5 Ways to Teach Culture Through Art.
Join us for our second annual Women’s History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world. Follow along all month plus link up your own posts below! Don’t miss our series from last year, and find even more posts on our Women’s History board on Pinterest.
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