With March being International Women’s Month, we’d like to shed light on the contemporary female artists that left a historical mark on fine and performance art, graphic design, photography, and other creative fields.

We’d like to highlight their commitment to making this world a better and more beautiful place and share their most famous works. Every female artist on the list has her own signature vision that will inspire you to unleash your creativity and experiment more. Their art will also encourage you to dive deeper into their life journeys to discover how strong, brave, and talented women can be.


Famous female artists you should know

1. Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is one of the most famous and expensive female artists today, whose painting “No. 2” has been sold at Christie’s auction for $5,1 million. You can easily recognize her works among millions of others and get hypnotized by installations that take you to  new dimensions. Most often, her art pieces include repeating patterns, like thousands of dots, which is how she got the nickname “Queen of polka dots”.

Her obsession with dots has a downside. From early childhood and up until now, the Japanese artist has suffered from obsessive thoughts and hallucinations. However, she uses her mental health issues to inspire her works that are appreciated by people worldwide.

Popular projects to explore:

– Infinity Mirror Rooms

– Obliteration Room

– Infinity Nets

– Narcissus Garden

– Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees

2. Paula Scher

Paula Scher is among the most influential artists alive today. She is an award-winning professional who started as a layout artist at Random House, continued her career as an art director at CBS Records, and became the first female partner at Pentagram. While working at CBS Records, her music album covers were nominated for Grammy Awards as Best Recording Package.

However, Paula Scher believes that her most significant cultural impact was made through work on brand identity projects for New York institutions such as the Public Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New York City Ballet.

Popular projects to explore:

– Posters for musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk

Brand identity system for the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Identity and promotional campaign for the New York City Ballet

Identity for the Public Theater, New York

Instagram account: @pentagramdesign

3. Marina Abramović

Who’s the first female artist that comes to mind when you think of performance art? Of course, it is Marina Abramović, a Serbian creator who’s been breaking the status quo since the 1970s.

During her performances, she explores the interaction between artist and audience by doing things that no one else has done before, even if it implies endangering herself for art’s sake. Once you get familiar with her biography and works, you might notice one interesting detail. Her desire to explore relationships and the limits of the human body and mind is rooted in her difficult childhood.

Popular projects to explore:

– Rythm 0

– Spirit Cooking

– Seven Easy Pieces

– The Artist Is Present

– Works with Ulay (a series)

Instagram account: @abramovicinstitute

4. Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is a famous female artist, best known for her celebrity photoshoots. You might be familiar with many of her works, including an image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Rolling Stone, a Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and many other well-known photographs of world-famous actors, singers, and models that are part of the annual Pirelli calendar.

Her portraits are extremely deep and authentic. They leave no one indifferent, and it should come as no surprise that Annie Leibovitz has been named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress of the United States.

Popular projects to explore:

– John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Rolling Stone

– Meryl Streep for Rolling Stone

– Series of Pirelli calendars

– Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

Instagram: @annieleibovitz

5. Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is indeed an iconic female artist and here’s why. During her career, she produced hundreds of photographs and all of them are self-portraits. Each photo is truly unique, as it depicts different characters that are created as a result of experiments with outfits, makeup, wigs, and intense post-production.

What’s even more interesting is that her works are not only a product of her own imagination, but a way to highlight pop-culture stereotypes. The latter is exactly what makes photos of Cindy Sherman so relatable to large audiences and high in demand among contemporary art lovers that buy her photographs for millions of dollars.

Popular projects to explore:

– Untitled #463

– Untitled #216

– Untitled#153

– Untitled #119

– Untitled #21

Instagram account: @cindysherman

6. Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger is a prominent conceptual artist and graphic designer, whose works are usually a combination of bold, red typography and black and white photos. Although this style makes her works recognizable in seconds, most of her projects resemble propaganda posters.

Similarities become apparent when you realize that all of Kruger’s designs literally scream “Money can buy love”, “Empathy can change the world”, “Talk is cheap”, and other phrases that address topics like consumerism and feminism.

Popular projects to explore:

– Untitled (I shop therefore I am)

– Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground)

– Untitled (You Are Not Yourself)

– L’empathie peut changer le monde (Empathy can change the world)

– Belief+Doubt

7. Juno Calypso

The young and aspiring 32-year old photographer, Juno Calypso, is already a winner of several awards, including the International Photography Award for the British Journal of Photography. While being a commercial artist, she also works on her own projects that have a signature and easily recognizable style.

One of her best-known projects among many is Joyce – a series of self-portraits that uncovers her fictional alter-ego. All of the works are highly stylized and raise awareness on the issue of how society treats women who invest a lot into their appearance.

Popular projects to explore:

– What to do with a million years

– The honeymoon


Instagram account: @junocalypso

8. Vanessa Beecroft

Vanessa Beecroft is among notable women in contemporary art history. She became famous for creating performances that explore the emotions and relationships between the audience and the show’s participants. The latter are often naked or semi-naked female models.

Vanessa’s works are both provocative and alluring, which is why many famous fashion brands such as Valentino, Tod’s, and Yeezy collaborated with her to create thought-provoking performances for their seasonal campaigns.

Popular projects to explore:

– VB52

– VB_Untitled

– VB_Handmade

– Yeezy, Seasons 1-3

9. Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville is a popular female artist who depicts naked women and the imperfections of their bodies. She challenges the traditional concept of beauty and femininity. Her bold and impressive paintings make people stop and think about the meaning behind her works.

Jenny Saville is considered to be among the few artists that managed to revive figure painting in the 21st century. She also set a world record in 2018; Her self-portrait Propped, a large-scale painting created in 1992, was purchased at Sotheby’s auction for $12,4 million.

Popular projects to explore:

– Propped

– Strategy

– Ruben’s Flap

– Matrix

Instagram account: @jenny_saville_art

10. Judy Chicago

The list of contemporary female artists wouldn’t be complete without the prominent feminist Judy Chicago. She was the one who coined the term ‘Feminist art’ and promoted the feminist art program in university. To create her art pieces, she turns to both female and male crafts such as needlework and welding. The use of these techniques makes her installations look particularly impressive.

Even though Judy Chicago is 81 years old and one of the most influential people in the world according to TIME, she still jokingly calls herself a troublemaker, which is inspiring indeed.

Popular projects to explore:

– The Dinner Party

– Powerplay

– The Birth Project

– The Holocaust Project

Instagram account: @judy.chicago

If you’re looking for more inspiration this spring, set aside some time to dive deeper into the creative paths of these famous female artists. Their worldviews, values, and adherence to what they do will motivate you to challenge your creativity and come up with new ways to work on your projects.

You’ll also enjoy exploring their biographies, which will serve as a source of new knowledge and insights on design, photography, and art.

Want to know more about female artists? Read these articles on our blog:

15 Female Photographers That Are Making a Difference

Female Photographers Share Their Inspiring Thoughts on Photography

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