Throughout the centuries, women have been making fascinating works of art but often remained in the shadows of their male counterparts. Many famous female painters of today had to fight against gender biases and opposition from the chroniclers of the art history. From various training and education restrictions to difficulties in selling their work and gaining recognition woman had to face many challenges on their way to stardom. And yet somehow they managed to gain the recognition they deserved and secure their place in art history.Despite numerous obstacles still present today, Contemporary art has more than its fair share of famous female painters. Women contributed to every major art movement and had a leading role in developing various art styles and techniques. From the magnificent Leonora Carrington often dubbed “the last great surrealist”, to whirlwind paintings of Julie Mehretu each woman on the following list had an outstanding role in making the art world as versatile and as fascinating as it is today.
One of the leading figures of American Abstract Expressionism Joan Mitchell explored the potential of aggressive brushstrokes and their ability to convey emotion. Optical illusions by Bridget Riley made her one of the leading figures of OP art movement that used black and white lines to create the feeling of motion. Calm photorealistic paintings by Vija Celmins depict the inherent beauty of our natural elements and evoke the feeling of serenity. Bleak nude images of Marlene Dumas, full of the pains of modern existence serve as a powerful counterpart to the nude magazine covers of today, often photo-shopped beyond perfection. Storybook inspired art by Paula Rego turned children tales into fascinating narrative visuals, while extensive plastic surgery studies of Jenny Saville revolutionized the way artists depict human flesh. Colorful mountains by Etel Adnan changed the way we feel about paint while Elizabeth Peyton kept the image of a human face in the focus of contemporary art by adding a feminine touch to celebrity portraits.