Can you recommend any female artists ?

My eight year old daughter loves art. She’s constantly drawing, painting, sculpting and writing books.

She asked to see some of the work of the “real” artists. I don’t know many, but I looked up the few I did know, she likes Picasso a lot.

Then she asked me “Aren’t there any girl artists ?” The only one I could think of was Grandma Moses.

Who are some other female artists I can show my daughter ?


Check out the Pre-Raphaelites, there were a quite few women, the stories behind the paintings should also apeal to her.

Brigit Riley (sp?) is great but being op art may not apeal. Barbera Hepworth, a sculptor, many of her pieces have a naive apeal to them, there is one in my local museam of a giant conker, FAB! Both of these women have been major influences on 20th and 21st century British artists.

Nah. Everybody knows chicks can’t paint.

OUCH. Damn it. Okay. Frida Kahlo is getting so much publicity these days she’s hard to avoid. Mary Cassatt, the great Impressionist; also Berthe Morisot. Georgia O’Keefe. Helen Frankenthaler. Margaret Bourke-White and Diane Arbus, the photographers.

The first ones that come to mind are Gabriel Muenter (German Expressionism), Barbara Krueger (former Conde Nast illustrator who became quite a figure in the 70s or 80s), Cindy Sherman (one of the most important art photographers of the late 20th century.)

Take her to a local art gallery. There must be some local female artists.

Some of the great female artists who come to mind are Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Beatrix Potter, Rosa Bonheur . . . You can find a lot online about all of 'em.

Woo-hoo! on having an eight-year-old who loves art, by the way—congrats!

Try using the Artchive. They have a great repository of art online (though read the comments on the link to see why there are fewer women in the Artchive than they want).

An anecdote:

When I was about eleven I was quietly killing some time waiting for class to start by drawing a portrait of a friend. Some guys in the class came over to look and then, out of the blue, started insulting me – not based on the quality of my work (they admitted it was pretty good), but for thinking that I, as a girl, had any business drawing! “You think you’re good, but all the real artists are men! Like Van Gogh!” was I believe an exact quote.

I was pretty surprised and irritated (this was the 1990s!), but calmly replied, “Ever hear of Mary Cassatt?” They hadn’t. “Then you don’t know much about real artists, do you?”

The teacher arrived then, and I never learned whether or not the boys felt duly chastened or inclined to beat me up.

Anyway, I can sympathize with your daughter’s frustration at the lack of well-known female artists.

A recommendation:

Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century Baroque painter who, unlike many early female artists, was famous in her own time and may have been the first woman in Europe to make her living as an artist. Your daughter might be a bit young to hear the more unpleasant details of Gentileschi’s life, but she was a tough, independant woman and a very talented artist. She is especially well-known for her many paintings depicting Judith slaying Holofernes, but she did plenty of non-violent and gore-free paintings of other religious and historical figures too.

Emily Carr

Amanda Dunbar

As a female artist myself, I can say that the suggestion for visting local art galleries is wonderful. I have two sons, and they key is to give them role models of all kinds early on. I didn’t have that, and it really crippled me in the beginning of my career.
As mentioned already,
Mary Cassat, Berthe Morisot are just awesome.
Two twentieth century artists who have subject matter very likely to appeal to, and appropriate for, a young girl are Sulamith Wulfing (can’t you tell I like her?), and Susan Seddon Boulet. You’ll find lots of beautiful images of angels, fairies, mermaids, unicorns, women, and children among their bright and colorful work.

There is a decent amount of info on the net about both.

Check out the National Museum for Women in the Arts:

A trip to the local library could yield nice books by Georgia O’Keefe.

If she’s looking for something a little more pop or less stuffy, she could take in some Rowena (SF/fantasy illustrator), Linda Medley (cartoonist of the wonderful Castle Waiting comic), Wendy Pini (artist and co-writer of Elfquest), or Christiane Kubrick (Stanley Kubrick’s widow, who paints in a Van Gogh-influenced style using brighter colors and happier themes).

There are lots of the this century of course, but for various historical reasons not too many before that (there was a landmark essay in the 1970s by Linda Nochlin called “Why are there no women artists?” that one reads in courses now). Many of the best illuminated manuscripts from the medieval era were painted at convents, but few of those women’s names are known.
Let’s see, the 20th and 19th century painters are more often known of, but since I know the 15th-17th centuries better than I do others. . .
Artmenisa Gentilleschi, as mentioned (her pop was Orazio G., and the family is know for a nice Caravaggio-like style); Livinia Fontana, also 16th c Italy and was a member of the Roman Academy. Oh, I especially like Sophonisba Anguissola (spelling?)
In the Dutch Republic there were a number (girls could enter the family trade so there are lots of wives, daughters and sisters of famous male painters): there was Rachel Ruysch, whose dad was a doctor, Judith Leyster who gave up painting when she married her less talented painter husband (IMO), Maria Meryan who painted book illustrations as did several other women, Gesina ter Borch, Clara Peeters, Catherina van Hemmessen. . . then there were a number in the 18th c especially in France (someone alrady mentioned Vigee-le-Brun).
My point being not to catalogue everyone but to mention that there WERE a goodly number (wanted to fight the impression that women only start painting in 1880)-- a web search should turn up lots of role models for your kid.

Here’s a couple recommendations…

Ragen Mendenhall, who I had the pleasure to meet several years ago. She started work as a young girl, and has only gotten better. An excellent role model for budding artists, and perhaps my favorite “new” artist.

Connie Seabourn is another favorite of my wife and I.

A couple of months ago, my 5-year old discovered Sister Wendy on PBS, and it is now her favorite show (seriously). A lot of it is over her head, but she nonetheless stares wide-eyed at each new piece presented.

I therefore took my kids to Chicago’s Art Institue for the first time this past weekend.

We went to the gift store first and I let the kids choose 10 postcards each from the section that showed works from the museum. Then, we went hunting for the paintings/sculptures on the postcards (I peeked at their choices and so knew generally that going to the Impressionist section, Arms and Armour section, Pre-Columbian section, etc. would lead to “discoveries”). It worked very well (I didn’t make this up myself–I stole the idea from an expert parent).

Got a new perspective on stuff too–do you know how much good-looking food there is on the walls? That a depiction of Mt. Vesuvius erupting is inaccurate, according to 4th grade scientific explanations? That knights weren’t very tall in olden days? That the statue of a man riding and trying to kill a centaur is an obvious Harry Potter reference?

I’m somewhat surprised no one has mentioned Susan Rothenberg. Her paintings are terrific.

Am I allowed to put in a plug for my friend, Monica Newell?

What about Whistler’s Mother ? No ? Okay …
Seriously though, I know nothing about kids but I do wonder if, as **Humble Servant ** says, Sister Wendy might be perfect for broadening her horizens ? …yeah, I’d definitely give her a whirl. And her dentistry’s good …

Knowing that your daughter likes Picasso, I will (reluctantly) mention Alexandra Nechita, who is still in her teens, and her style has led to such descriptions has “the petite Picasso.” My own opinion is that she’s an overhyped hack, but that may just be me. Lots of hits on Google if you care to do a search.

Interesting that so many people mentioned Artemisia Gentileschi, since that’s the first name to pop into my head when I saw the OP.

If Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun is your (or her) cup of tea, then by all means check out Anne Vallayer-Coster, who was Marie-Antoinette’s court painter, and her recent rediscovery (if that’s the right word) is now a touring exhibit.

Since people have already mentioned several 19th Century artists, let’s skip right into the Modern age and get to Lee Krasner, who was Jackson Pollock’s wife and an accomplished painter in her own right. A contemporary to Krasner, but in a different style, is the great minimalist Agnes Martin. Also of the same age but working in sculpture, there is Louise Bourgeois.

Now, to our own time, there are certainly lots of working female artists, with varying levels of name recognition. Anyway, given that, a couple off the top of my head are Magdalena Abakanowicz, April Gornik, Linda Ridgway, and Susie Rosmarin, who is an Op artist similar to the aforementioned Bridget Riley.

I was going to be a nit-picker (well, I guess I am) and correct the spelling to Georgia O’Keeffe, with 2 Fs, but that brought to mind Native American pottery of the Southwest, which is a field filled with women.

There’s a book, Women Artists, that has lots of good-sized pictures from all periods, with a short intro to each artist. I use it in my classes and have found it really opens kids eyes to all the great work done by women through the years.