Self-Portrait, turned slightly to the left. Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945). Pen and different shades of gray-black ink, 6 9/16 x 11 7/16 in., ca. 1893. The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 2006 (2006.502)
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O Pioneers!

We’re kicking off Women’s History Month by celebrating fierce female artists—and a few of their works in The Met collection

Suffragette Extraordinaire

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage this year, it’s hard to escape the legacy of voting-rights activist Susan B. Anthony. Her imposing likeness was captured by fellow feminist Adelaide Johnson, who also created sculptures of famous suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.

Susan B. Anthony. Adelaide Johnson (1859–1955). Marble, 22 1/2 x 19 x 10 1/2 in., 1892; carved ca. 1905–6. Gift of Mrs. Murray Whiting Ferris, 1906 (06.1264)

 

Baroque Innovator

A remarkable pioneer, Artemisia Gentileschi was the most famous female painter of the 17th century, known for her theatrical compositions; crisply painted details; and depictions of strong women from scripture, history, and myth.

Esther before Ahasuerus. Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, 1593–1654 or later). Oil on canvas, 82 x 107 3/4 in. Gift of Elinor Dorrance Ingersoll, 1969 (69.281)

 

Chronicler of Pathos

In her self-portraits, allegories, and depictions of working-class subjects, draftsman and printmaker Käthe Kollwitz portrayed the dignity and pain of suffering. With an economy of line and color, her work stands as an important visual reaction to the upheavals that swept Europe early in the 20th century—especially World War I, which claimed the life of her son. 

Working Woman with Blue Shawl (Brustbild Einer Arbeiterfrau Mit Blauem Tuch). Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945). Lithograph printed in color; second state of three, 1903. Rogers Fund, 1923 (23.52.17[4])

 

An American Abroad

The only American invited to join the group of artists later known as the Impressionists, Mary Cassatt, a Pennsylvania-born expatriate, exhibited in four of the group’s eight exhibitions. A protegée of Edgar Degas, Cassatt gained renown as a portraitist and figure painter, and is especially beloved for her depictions of mothers and children.

Lady at the Tea Table. Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926). Oil on canvas, 29 x 24 in., 1883–85. Gift of the artist, 1923 (23.101)

 

Capturing Contrasts

Acclaimed filmmaker and video artist Shirin Neshat uses her camera to document the contrasts of her native Iran (where her work has never been shown)—especially the role of women under the Islamic Republic and its conservative religious doctrine. Her work offers profound commentary through beautifully composed shots whose languid, ruminative pace allows viewers to contemplate the faces—and the inner lives—of her subjects.

Tooba, 2002. Shirin Neshat (Iranian, born 1957). C-print, 19.7 x 27.6 in., 2002. Purchase, 2012 NoRuz at The Met Benefit, 2015 (2015.6)

 

Desert as Muse

A titan of American art, Georgia O’Keeffe captured the world in semi-abstract forms saturated with color—an aesthetic that stayed remarkably consistent throughout her long career, and which remains instantly recognizable today. The landscapes of New Mexico, where she lived on and off for some 40 years, provided endless inspiration for O’Keeffe’s work.

Black Hollyhock, Blue Larkspur. Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887–1986). Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 in., 1929. George A. Hearn Fund, 1934 (34.51)

 

Beaded with History

Artist and bead worker Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty weaves the history of her Assiniboine/Sioux people into each of her elaborate creations. Using materials old and new, she inspires new generations of creators by keeping alive the traditions of the Native Americans of the Great Plains.

Female Doll. Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty (Native American, born 1950). Cotton, glass, leather, metal, hair, feather, ribbon, shell; H. 19 1/2 x W. 9 in.; 2000. Ralph T. Coe Collection, Gift of Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts, 2011 (2011.154.196)

 

 

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