From Frida Kahlo to Yayoi Kusama and Tracey Emin, discover 10 unique women who have left a lasting mark on the art world.
What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 than to pay tribute to the great female artists who have left a lasting mark on our cultural landscape?
To find out, Musement analyzed the Instagram mentions for more than 250 artists and created a top 10 list. This list is a great starting point for discovering the art of women, who, in the past, have often enough been overshadowed by their male counterparts.
1. Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954), more than 4.1 millon mentions
With over 4 million posts on Instagram, Frida Kahlo leads the list of most popular female artists on the social media platform by a wide margin. The Mexican painter is celebrated as a feminist icon and was one of the most famous modern artists of her time. Her life was short, but intense. Her experiences, especially her suffering, were the source of inspiration for most of her works, in which she captures both her passion and pain. Kahlo’s paintings, many of which are self-portraits, are easily distinguishable from the use of colors to express her emotions. This fall, the Drents Museum will host the Viva la Frida exhibition, a must-see event for Kahlo lovers.
2. Yayoi Kusama (1929): more than 910,500 mentions
A pioneer of feminist art, pop art and minimalism, Yayoi Kusama is said to have been an influence on Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and many others. The avant-garde artist brought her visions into the world of painting, sculpture, installations and performances. Kusama, who is passionate about polka dots, is recognized internationally and has received numerous awards at home in Japan and abroad. Her works can be admired at the Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo.
3. Louise Bourgeois (1911 – 2010), more than 144,200 mentions
The French-American artist is known for her large-scale sculptures and installations. Over the course of her long career, she explored a variety of themes, including domestic life and family, sexuality and the body, as well as death and the subconscious. She became a well-known figure of feminism in the 1970s. One of her most recognized works, Maman, a 30-foot-tall giant spider sculpture, is part of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao collection.
4. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887 – 1986), more than 131,800 mentions
Considered the “Mother of American Modernism,” O’Keeffe’s work falls under the artistic movement known as Precisionism, a style characterized by the attention to detail and precision in one’s paintings. The artist was admired for her distinct individualism and is best known for her paintings of flowers and skyscrapers (the latter were previously painted only by men). Among her many accolades is that she was the first woman artist to receive a retrospective at the MoMA in 1946. This year, around 80 of O’Keeffe’s works will be on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. Visitors will be able to fully immerse themselves in her work.
5. Marina Abramović (1946), more than 126,100 mentions
The self-proclaimed “grandmother of performance” has become an artistic and feminist reference point since the beginning of her career in the 1970s. In all her creations, the Serbian artist explores the limits of her own body and the relationship with the audience. Some of her performances, such as Rhythm 0 or The Artist Is Present, have millions of views on YouTube and other social networks.
6. Tracey Emin (1963), more than 83,200 mentions
The British conceptual artist is known for her provocative autobiographical works, in which she reveals extremely intimate details. Two of her best-known and most acclaimed works are Everyone I Have Ever Slept With and My Bed. The latter exhibited at the Tate Gallery in London in 1999, and was auctioned for £2.2 million in 2014. In addition to installations, the artist also excels in other fields, such as sculpture, drawings, and photography.
7. Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002), more than 76,600 mentions
The most famous works by the French-American painter and sculptor are undoubtedly the Nana figures: sculptures depicting colorful, voluptuous female figures with oversized sexual features. The term “Nana” comes from French and represents a modern, self-confident and erotic woman. In the mid-60s, Niki de Saint Phalle anticipated the spreading women’s movement with her slogan “All power to the Nanas”. Her work can be admired along the Sculpture Mile in Hanover, the Museum of Modern Art in Nice, among other places.
8. Cindy Sherman (1954), more than 64,200 mentions
Although the American artist began her college studies majoring in painting, she quickly made the change to photography. Cindy Sherman became best known for her photographic self-portraits and self-dramas in which she often alters her image with makeup, wigs or costumes to create new characters. Through her work, Sherman seeks to question the influence of the media on our individual and collective identities. Her most famous series, Untitled Film Stills, was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1995 for $1 million.
9. Barbara Kruger (1945), more than 63,900 mentions
The renowned American conceptual artist experimented with textile techniques in her early years, but today she is now best known for her photographic works. Kruger’s works can be admired not only in museums and galleries, but also on billboards, train stations, and other public spaces. Her black-and-white photographs, usually with political or social messages written in white letters on a red background, are taking Instagram by storm. If the current situation allows for it, the Art Institute of Chicago will host the Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. exhibition this summer, which will display the artist’s works over the last four decades.
10. Jenny Holzer (1950), more than 63,800 mentions
The use of text and public space as exhibition space are the main characteristics of this American conceptual artist. In her works, Jenny Holzer often addresses social issues and problems such as politics, war, sex, feminism and power structures. One of her best-known creations is the so-called “Truisms,” a series of short, concise statements that were placed in the form of anonymous posters on buildings, walls and fences in Lower Manhattan in the late 1970s. She later distributed them via LED light strips, benches, stickers, T-shirts, as well as through the Internet and other media.
Analysis: mentions on Instagram of more than 250 artists have been analyzed. To perform the ranking, the number of publications tagged with the hashtag of the full name of each artist (#firstnamelastname) have been taken into consideration. Data as of February 2021