See 19 Powerful Artworks From a New Book Celebrating the Greatest Women Artists in History

The volume illustrates the artistic genius of 400 women from more than 50 countries.

Dana Claxton, Cultural Belongings (2016). © and courtesy the artist.
Dana Claxton, Cultural Belongings (2016). © and courtesy the artist.

When the art historian Horst Waldemar Janson’s History of Art was first published in 1962, the book—which has since become the definitive art history textbook in the West—did not name a single female artist. The omission was not rectified until the 1986 edition was released.

In recognition of that historical imbalance, Phaidon has teamed up with Kering, the parent company of Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and other luxury brands, to release Great Women Artists, a massive volume illustrating the artistic genius of 400 women (whittled down from an initial list of 1,000 names) representing more than 50 countries.

The book takes its title from Linda Nochlin’s famed essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Her 1971 text, now a staple of college art history courses, examines the societal conditions that have led to the male domination of the art world. But by crossing out the word women on the book’s cover, Phaidon asks readers to consider the book’s subjects as artists first and foremost.

Billed as “the most extensive fully illustrated book of women artists ever published,” Great Women Artists celebrates female artistic genius across the centuries, with artists from 500 years of art history included. Organized alphabetically, the book includes a brief biography of each artist alongside an example of her work.

The cover of Great Women Artists.

Included in the publication are A-listers like Georgia O’Keeffe, Mary Cassatt, Diane Arbus, Yayoi Kusama, and Kara Walker, as well as less familiar figures, such as Constance Marie Charpentier, a French artist who lived from 1767 to 1849. Readers will also be introduced to emerging names including Tschabalala Self, born in 1990. The publication makes the case that all of them have earned a place in the canon alongside their better-known male counterparts.

In conjunction with the book, Phaidon and Artspace are releasing a charitable portfolio of limited-edition prints that will benefit Promundo-US, a nonprofit that works to promote gender justice.

See some of the works included in the book below.

Lubiana Himid, <i>Naming The Money</i> (2004, detail). Courtesy of the artist, Hollybush Gardens and National Museums Liverpool. Photo courtesy Spike Island and Stuart Whipps.

Lubiana Himid, Naming The Money (2004, detail). Courtesy of the artist, Hollybush Gardens and National Museums Liverpool. Photo courtesy Spike Island and Stuart Whipps.

Loïs Mailou Jones, Jennie (1943). Courtesy of Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust.

Katie Paterson, <i>Totality</i> (2016). Photo ©the artist, courtesy the Lowry, Salford/Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh.

Katie Paterson, Totality (2016). Photo ©the artist, courtesy the Lowry, Salford/Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh.

Mika Rottenberg, <i>Mary’s Cherries</i> (2004). Photo © the artist/Fund for the Twenty-First Century, MoMA.

Mika Rottenberg, Mary’s Cherries (2004). Photo © the artist/Fund for the Twenty-First Century, MoMA.

Sylvia Sleigh, <i>Imperial Nude: Paul Rosano </i>(1977). Courtesy of Estate Sylvia Sleigh.

Sylvia Sleigh, Imperial Nude: Paul Rosano (1977). Courtesy of the estate of Sylvia Sleigh.

Amalia Ulman, <i>Excellences &amp; Perfections, Episode 1</i> (2014). Courtesy of the Artist and Arcadia Missa.

Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections, Episode 1 (2014). Courtesy of the Artist and Arcadia Missa.

Diane Arbus, <i>Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J., 1966</i> (printed between 1967 and 1970). Photo ©the estate of Diane Arbus.

Diane Arbus, Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J., 1966 (printed between 1967 and 1970). Photo ©the estate of Diane Arbus.

Eleanor Antin, <i>100 Boots Looking for a Job, San Clemente, California, 1972</i> (1972). Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York.

Eleanor Antin, 100 Boots Looking for a Job, San Clemente, California, 1972 (1972). Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York.

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, <i>Decagon (Third Family)</i> (2011). Courtesy the Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE/Robert Divers Herrick.

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Decagon (Third Family) (2011). Courtesy the Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE/Robert Divers Herrick.

Fiona Banner, <i>Harrier</i> (2010). Copyright the artist. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London. © Tate Photography/Andrew Dunkley and Sam Drake.

Fiona Banner, Harrier (2010). Copyright the artist. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London. Photo ©Tate Photography/Andrew Dunkley and Sam Drake.

Marie-Denise Villers, <em>Marie Joséphine Charlotte du Val d’Ognes</em> (1801). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection

Marie-Denise Villers, Marie Joséphine Charlotte du Val d’Ognes (1801). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection

Joana Vasconcelos, <em>A Noiva [The Bride]</em>, 2001–5, installation view, Palácio da Ajuda, Lisbon (2013), António Cachola Collection, Elvas, Portugal. Photo by Luís Vasconcelos, courtesy Unidade Infinita Projectos|Ajuda National Palace, Lisbon, 2013.

Joana Vasconcelos, A Noiva [The Bride], 2001–5, installation view, Palácio da Ajuda, Lisbon (2013), António Cachola Collection, Elvas, Portugal. Photo by Luís Vasconcelos, courtesy Unidade Infinita Projectos|Ajuda National Palace, Lisbon, 2013.

Laurie Simmons, <em>First Bathroom/Woman Standing</em> (1978). Photo courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Laurie Simmons, First Bathroom/Woman Standing (1978). Photo courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Constance Marie Charpentier, <em>Melancholy</em> (1801). Courtesy of Musee de Picardie, Amiens, France/Bridgeman Images.

Constance Marie Charpentier, Melancholy (1801). Courtesy of Musee de Picardie, Amiens, France/Bridgeman Images.

Hrafnhildur "Shoplifter" Arnardóttir, <em>Nervescape V</em> (2016), detail, installation view, "Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything," Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia. Photo by Natasha Harth, ©the artist.

Hrafnhildur “Shoplifter” Arnardóttir, Nervescape V (2016), detail, installation view, “Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything,” Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia. Photo by Natasha Harth, ©the artist.

Guerrilla Girls, <em>When Racism & Sexism Are No Longer Fashionable, What Will Your Art Collection Be Worth?</em> (1989). ©Guerrilla Girls.

Guerrilla Girls, When Racism & Sexism Are No Longer Fashionable, What Will Your Art Collection Be Worth? (1989). ©Guerrilla Girls.

Lisa Reihana, <em>In Pursuit of Venus [Infected]</em>, 2015–17 (detail/video still). Courtesy of Auckland Art Gallery/Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand/Aotearoa.

Lisa Reihana, In Pursuit of Venus [Infected], 2015–17 (detail/video still). Courtesy of Auckland Art Gallery/Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand/Aotearoa.

Howardena Pindell, <em>Untitled #84</em> (1977). Photo courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Howardena Pindell, Untitled #84 (1977). Photo courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.


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