Womxn Artists who Made Modern Art History – But Do You Know Them?

Image illustrating how womxn artists have had and still have trouble being taken seriously. There is no doubt that Frida Kahlo is nowadays more famous than her husband at the time, Diego Rivera.

Can’t name many womxn artists? You’re not alone. One of the reasons is that female artists have failed to be recognised by the public and critics, often not taken very seriously. Frida Kahlo for example has been painted off as the artist’s wife ’who was ‘gleefully dabbling in art’ as if it were an innocent hobby next to catering to her famous husband.

Read more about the use of the word Womxn on my About page.

Finding Womxn Artists in Modern Art

Unfortunately it can still be hard to find a lot of images on the internet of works by acclaimed womxn artists from Modern Art history. Museums are catching up, often post-humously hosting big shows dedicated to one womxn artist. After a big show there are often many more images of these works available online.

So let’s hope this trend will continue so that many more people will have access to womxn’s art from modern history.

“Abstract art is only important if it is the endless rhythm where the very ancient and the distant future meet.” -Sonia Delaunay

What is interesting to note when looking at womxn’s modern art is, that multidisciplinary art is not a thing only of today. Sonia Delaunay, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Alexandra Exter were all involved in many different media at once such as textile, painting, print, architecture and costume design.

It is sometimes expected of artists to stick to one recognizable ‘thing’ and medium, but the boundaries are only really present in our minds. Though it might be easy on Instagram, having one repetitive spiel to promote on a daily basis is not a classical way of working per sé.

Womxn can perceive more color than men, this is interesting to keep in mind when coming across womxn’s art.

Check out the contributions of these womxn to modern art.

Dora Maar

Henriette Theodora Markovitch, known as Dora Maar, was a French photographer, painter, and poet. She has been most known for being a muse to Pablo Picasso, but has actually been the one to teach him photography techniques such as the cliché verre technique – a complex method combining photography and printmaking

According to ArtNet, Picasso badly abused Dora Maar both physically and mentally. After this she underwent illegal electroshock therapy with controversial psychiatrist Jacques Lacan.

Now in 2020 there was a chance to catch her work and catalogue in a seemingly grand exhibition at the Tate Modern in London. Her works are surreal and experimental, radically playing with sharp shadows and contrasts. Dora Maar was a true innovator in her days, whose work still looks modern.

Ana Mendieta

Mendieta was born in Cuba and was sent to the USA in exile by her parents at 12 years old. An active artist in the 70s and 80s both in the USA and Cuba. She died an untimely death at 36 years old, falling out of a 34th floor window allegedly pushed by modern artist Carl Andre.

Best known for her earth-body artwork, Mendieta made video-art, performance art, paintings and sculptures, inspired by the nature of her homeland and indigenous cultures and their myths and magic ‘santeria’. 

She was uncomfortable with white middle-class feminism at the time and wanted to be seen as an artist in her own right, also outside of just the Latin Art category. Let’s hope for big Ana Mendieta show in Europe so we can see more.

Sonia Delaunay

Design and art once, also called ‘Simultane’, Sonia Delaunay was very forward-looking in the early 20th century.

“Colour is the skin of the world.” – Sonia Delaunay

Until recently it seems, her famous art husband Robert Delaunay, who was gay, was better known than her. This was not for lack of talent, drive or accomplishments. 

Sonia Delaunay was an extremely prolific artist working in color abstractions with references to Russain folk-craft.

Tamara de Lempicka

Fleeing the Russian revolution with her husband, Tamara de Lempicka lived in 1920s Paris. She was famous for wild parties and charming many men and women, garnering a ‘scandalous’ reputation. Sounds like a fun biography to read!

Shunning impressionism, Lempicka painted art-deco portraits and later many paintings of the rich and famous, including Hollywood stars.


The lives and works of these womxn artists remain forever interesting and sometimes shocking. 

Other historical womxn artists from modern art are Judy Chicago, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Natalia Goncharova, Cindy Sherman, Lee Krasner, Hilma af Klint, Carolee Schneemann, Maya Deren, Berenice Abbott.

Let us know your favorite modern art womxn artists. Click here to read about Remarkable Womxn: 21st century Artists.

Curious about my art? Surf to www.reinilde.com