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Just like many other realms of culture, the contemporary art scene is a greatly male dominated area. Today, we are trying to correct this by recognizing the work of few female artists who are constantly breaking new ground with their work. 

 

What follows is our look at the work of contemporary female artists whose diversity of practices and contributions to the avant-garde movements of our time have been enormous, yet very often overlooked and unrecognized. Not only that these extraordinary women influenced the history of contemporary art, but they are, most certainly, going to shape its future. All of them opted to methodically explore the new reality of the art realm after the feminist movement.

Marina Abramović - Pioneer of Performance Art

We are going to start this list with one of the biggest names on the contemporary art scene. Marina Abramović is a New York based performance artist whose work explores the relationship between the performer and the audience, limitations of the body and the vast possibilities of the mind. With a highly lucrative career, which spans over four decades, Abramović has been rightfully described as the pioneer of performance art.

In 2010, the Museum of Modern Art held a major retrospective and performance recreation of her work, which stands as the biggest exhibition of performance art in the history of MoMA. During the exhibition, Abramović performed The Artist is Present, a 736-hour and 30-minute static, silent piece, in which she sat immobile in the atrium of the museum while audience members were invited to take turns sitting opposite her.

 

 

Cindy Sherman - Highly Provocative

Cindy Sherman (Cynthia Morris Sherman) is a renowned American contemporary artist, photographer and film director, best known for her conceptual portraits that raise challenging questions about the role and representation of women in modern society. Sherman broke globally in the early 1980s when her series of 69 black and white photographs, titled Untitled Film Stills achieved international recognition as the gems of feminist photography. The series consisted of photographs showing the artist posing in different roles and settings, resulting in images so powerfully reminiscent of film stills typical of Italian neorealism or American film noir. Sherman’s highly provocative work wonderfully incorporates various influences of feminism, performance art, as well as cultural criticism, and the body and identity politics.

 

 

 

Vanessa Beecroft - Existential Encounters Between the Models and the Audience

Vanessa Beecroft is a Los Angeles based Italian contemporary female artist, internationally recognized for her large scale performance art that addresses conceptual and aesthetic concerns, and often involves nude female models. Beecroft’s performances stand as existential encounters between the models and audience, which are successfully turned into separate, self sufficient pieces as Beecroft takes photographs and video recordings of her live performances. Each of Beecroft’s performances is created for a specific location and usually references the political, historical, or social associations of the place where it is held. Deceptively simple in its execution, the art of Vanessa Beecroft provokes questions around identity politics and voyeurism in the complex relationship between the viewer, model and the context.

 

 

 

Barbara Kruger - Exploring Gender and Identity

American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, considered to be part of the Pictures Generation, is widely known for her work consisting of monochrome photographs overlaid with slogans that deal with cultural constructions of power, identity and sexuality. Kruger initially started working as a designer and later moved on to work as a picture editor in several different publications. In her early years as a visual artist, she crocheted, sewed and painted bright-hued and erotically suggestive objects, but later shifted her focus toward working with her own architectural photographs. Using the techniques of advertising and mass communication, Barbara Kruger addresses issues of language and signs, all in order to explore universal subjects of gender and identity.

 

 

 

Yayoi Kusama - Widely Acknowledged Voice of the Avant-Garde

Yayoi Kusama is a renowned Japanese artist and writer, internationally famous for her pattern art and repetition-based psychedelic art she creates using a wide array of media that includes painting, collage sculpture, installations and performance art. With an extraordinary career, spanning over seven decades, Yayoi Kusama is considered as a precursor of the pop art, minimalist and feminist art movements, whose works greatly influenced contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Although she has been almost completely forgotten after departing the New York art scene in the early 1970s, Kusama is today widely acknowledged as one of the most important Japanese contemporary artists, and an important voice of the avant-garde.

 

 

 

Tracey Emin - Sensual Art Inspired by Deep Emotions and Intimacy

Tracey Emin is a contemporary artist and one of the most prominent members of the Young British Artists group that creates deeply sensual artworks inspired by their own emotions and experiences. During her education at the Royal College of Art in London, Tracey Emin created a great number of paintings inspired by works of Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch, which she later destroyed in a burst of fury. Emin successfully broke to fame in the late 1990s, when she gained a considerable media coverage for her installation My Bed, consisting of her own unmade bed, littered with used condoms and blood stained underwear. Since then, she has been creating drawings and neon installations that tell artist’s intimate stories of love, desire and rejection.

 

 

Nan Goldin - From Skylines and Landscapes to Themes of Drugs, Sex and Violence

Nancy Nan Goldin is an internationally acclaimed American contemporary artist from New York, famed for her exceptional work in photography. Since her first gallery exhibition in 1973, Goldin has been steadily gaining attention for her intensely personal and spontaneous photographs that deal with subjects of sexuality and gender. Following her graduation at the Boston/Tufts University in the late 1970s, she moved to NYC where she started documenting the new wave music scene and the city’s vibrant gay and transsexual subculture. This is seen in her most famous series of photographs titled The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, which depicts drug use, violent couples, as well as autobiographical moments. Since the mid-1990s, Nan Goldin’s photographs shifted toward a wider array of subjects, including captivating NYC’s skylines, uncanny landscapes and intimate snapshots of her private life.

 

 

 

Read more on Widewalls and Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the artworld.

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