Even though the world of art continues to be greatly populated by male artists, women are rising in the ranks of notable creators. In 1993, Rachel Whitehead became the first woman to win the Tate Gallery’s Turner Prize.
Since then, more women have gained notice both in the world of art sales and in the competitions for the major prizes awarded to artists.
Outstanding work has been produced in many forms: painting, installations, sculpture. The following five women can be considered among the top female artists from around the world.
1. Valérie Favre is a Swiss born painter who is based in Berlin, Germany. She moved to Berlin after several years of working in Paris. She began her career as a theatre set artist, an experience that has continued to have an effect on her work.
She looks to bring feeling into the forms of her works. Her “Lapine” series of painting exhibits energy and a determined feminist outlook, beginning with the word-play (in French) of the title of the series: “lapine” being the word for rabbit, but also as “la pine,” it references the paintbrush as a female penis.
In the works of the series, feminine figures with long rabbit ears display great energy and defiance of constriction. In 2012 she was nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize.
2. In 2008, Yayoi Kusama of Japan set a record for the sale of the work of a living female artist when Christies New York auctioned one of her works for $5.1 million.
Her conceptual art envelops attributes as diverse as minimalism, surrealism, and pop culture. Her work has encompassed painting, collage, sculpture, environmental installations, and performance art.
Afflicted by hallucinations as a child, this incredible Japanese woman’s work has a reach that stretches the viewer’s imagination and has managed to reach a global audience.
The motif of polka dots runs through her work, representing her view of herself as “a dot lost in a million other dots.” In spite of her feeling of being lost, her work is found by quite a large audience.
3. German-born abstract artist Tomma Abts brings a complex approach to her work. None of her paintings are representational, but neither are they simple. Working in acrylic and oil, Abts layers her complex shapes, weaving them together on the canvas.
Her abstractions dance on the edge of familiarity, evoking the ghost of representational images without quite allowing a final definition. This intricate play of shape and color holds the viewer’s attention. In 2006, her work won the Turner Prize.
4. Angela de la Cruz of Spain pushes her work beyond the customary perceptions of dimension. While still a student, she was struck by the appearance of a canvas which had part of the frame removed.
The unexpected encounter of what had been a two dimensional representation now seen as a three dimensional object changed her approach to art.
Her paintings and sculptures create installations the viewer encounters in a physical way. No longer flat objects easily passed, her works demand attention—and they get it. She was nominated for the Turner prize in 2010. She currently lives and works in London.
5. Tatiana Trouvé brings an architectural thinking to her sculptures, drawings and installations. She was born in Cosenza, Italy, but is now based in Paris.
She works in a large scale, creating room-sized installations. She uses materials with an industrial feel to them, piping, cement, concrete and other such substances.
Yet, a playfulness lurks in her pieces, tantalizing the viewer into imagining that something is about to happen. In a 2009 interview, she said, “Time is the theme underlying all my work.”
When viewed, her pieces convey the use of space as a way of examining our experience of time. In 2001, she won the Paul Ricard Prize and in 2007, the Marcel Duchamp Prize.
Each of these women has built a remarkable body of work. They embody the boldness of the creative spirit, challenging viewers with new perspectives on the world around them.