4 Important Female Contemporary Visual Artists

4 Important Female Contemporary Visual Artists

Last month, french sculptor Marisol Escobar passed away at the age of 85.


Articles were published that discussed her body of work and though she had a successful career, by the year 2000 her work was virtually forgotten and erased. Escobar’s art practice was reduced to the comparison of “the female Warhol” — a phrase meant to be a compliment but one that reeks of misogyny and undermines Escobar’s great contribution to pop art.

Like many female artists, names are misrepresented and works are undermined. As a woman in the art world, I find myself growing tired of names like, Richard Serra, Carl Andre, Jasper Johns, and Jackson Pollock. Where are the women artists? When are their voices heard? Why are they forgotten?

Frida Kaho or Georgia O’Keefe are names that only scratch the surface — there are a multitude of women who are largely ignored by the public, especially on the institutional level.

A tally by art critic Jerry Saltz, discovered that out of the 73 advertisements in an Artforum issue, 11 were for solo shows by women. Moreover, the iconic group, Guerrilla Girls counted that 4% of artists at the Metropolitan Museum were women in 2012, which is worse than their statistically findings in 1989.

In order to support female artists and activate our visuals beyond the scope of gender bias, viewers must be willing to enrich their artistic palette by engaging with other artists instead of absorbing what museums and galleries suggest they enjoy.

To begin your search, here are 4 female contemporary artists who work in sculpture, painting, and multidisciplinary mediums across the globe.

Mika Rottenberg

Argentine video artist, Mika Rottenberg is currently based in New York. In the Venice Biennale last year, Rottenberg’s installation and video piece, NoNoseKnows, presented an assembly line of female workers making pearls as a means of production. Rottenberg’s oeuvre suggests the themes of working and more specifically, women working. The characters in her video pieces have physical eccentricities that reveal the absurd nature of the mundane tasks that the viewer is subjected to watch. Rottenberg’s work celebrates the unusual and the atypical.

Elia Alba

New York City based artist, Elia Alba is a multidisciplinary creator whose primary practice is in photography. The artist’s work focuses largely on the topic of color and in her most notable project, The Supper Club, Alba depicted more than 60 contemporary artists of color. The project established a conversation surrounding artists of color from well-known artists today to those emerging. Alba’s project opens up dialogue surrounding race and cultural criticism.

Cathy Wilkes 

Trained at the Glasgow School of Art, Irish artist, Cathy Wilkes emerged into the art world in the mid-1990s. Her work features distressed installations that depict menial tasks with a domestic flair. Cleaning, baking, items like plates or cups, are all synonymous with the work of Wilkes. Many of her works are shop mannequins, poised in a frozen moment of human form and memory. In addition to sculpture and installation, Wilkes also works in painting.

Rebecca Warren

London based artist, Rebecca Warren utilizes bronze, steel, and clay to form her representations of the female body and often employs the theme of sexuality in reference to historical works. Warren’s lumpy vessels appear like wet skin and flesh and their conflation represents the ideal of a female body through the lens of a largely male dominated gaze. Moreover, Warren is interested in the tension between the finished piece and the unfinished. Many of her pieces appear to be provisional — unglazed or loose in shape.

What female artists influence your work or inspire your creative practice? Sound off in the comments below!

Cover image courtesy of Getty Images