Challenge Accepted: Can You Name Five Women Artists?

Ask someone to name five artists and responses will likely include names such as Warhol, Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci—all male artists. Ask someone to name five women artists, and the question poses more of a challenge.

Back by popular demand this March, the National Museum of Women in the Arts continues to ask, “Can you name five women artists?” This simple question calls attention to the inequity women artists face, inspires conversation, and brings awareness to a larger audience. Last year, the campaign struck a chord, and tens of thousands of posts were shared on social media. This year, more than 200 institutions from 50 states, 22 countries, and seven continents have already signed on to participate.

Join us throughout the month to share stories of women artists using the hashtag #5WomenArtists on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Challenge your family and friends.
  2. Share posts about your favorite women artists.
  3. Share a work by a woman artist at a museum or gallery near you.
  4. Explore NMWA’s artist profiles to discover artists you may not know.
  5. Get the facts about art world inequality and track campaign updates all month long.

To kick off the month, learn more about five influential women artists from the museum’s collection who defied expectations:

Left to right: Lavinia Fontana, Portrait of a Noblewoman (ca. 1580) and Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez, Jar (ca. 1939); NMWA; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Left to right: Lavinia Fontana, Portrait of a Noblewoman, ca. 1580 and Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez, Jar, ca. 1939; NMWA; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Renaissance painter Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614) is regarded as the first professional woman artist. For 20 years beginning in the 1580s, Fontana was the portraitist of choice among Bolognese noblewomen. Not only was Fontana the breadwinner of her family, she also gave birth to 11 children.

For more than eight decades, Maria Martinez (1887–1980) revived and continued the centuries-old black-on-black pottery traditions of San Ildefonso Pueblo in northern New Mexico. Through her creative vision and skill, Martinez influenced generations of artists.

Left to right: Clementine Hunter, Untitled, 1981; NMWA, Gift of Evelyn M. Shambaugh; Lola Álvarez Bravo, De generación en generación, ca. 1950; NMWA, Gift of the Artist; © 1995 University of Arizona Foundation, Center for Creative Photography

Entirely self-taught and immensely prolific, Clementine Hunter (ca. 1887–1988) earned critical acclaim for vibrant paintings depicting life in the Cane River region of central Louisiana. Hunter did not start painting until the 1940s, when she was already a grandmother.

Lola Álvarez Bravo (1907–1993) was one of Mexico’s first professional women photographers, documenting daily life and portraying prominent world leaders. Like her friend Frida Kahlo, Álvarez Bravo celebrated the traditional costumes and customs of her country’s varied regions. She cannily blended nationalist content with the expression of universal human emotions.

Lee Krasner, The Springs, 1964; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © 2012 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Lee Krasner (1908–1984) was one of the first generation of Abstract Expressionist painters. Through six decades devoted to art, she explored innovative approaches to painting and collage. Often overshadowed by her husband, Krasner declared, “I’m always going to be Mrs. Jackson Pollock . . . but I painted before Pollock, during Pollock, after Pollock.”

Want to help advocate for women in the arts? Starting March 1, take the challenge and post about #5WomenArtists on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and tag us @WomenInTheArts.

Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

30 thoughts on “Challenge Accepted: Can You Name Five Women Artists?

  1. Sofonisba Anguissola, Yayoi Kusama, Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington and Chen Xi.

  2. Rachel Ruys
    Judith Leyster
    Marlene Dumas
    Claire Morgan
    Tracy Enim

  3. Georgia O’Keefe
    Corita Kent
    Frida Kahlo
    Imogen Cunningham
    Tamara de Lempicka

    Bonus: me

  4. Artemisia Gentileschi
    Judith Leyster
    Laura Piranesi
    Remedios Varo
    Leonora Carrington

    NINA Katchadourian

  6. Diane Arbus
    Frida Kahlo
    Georgia O’Keefe
    Dorothea Lange
    Annie Leibowitz

  7. Louise Nevelson
    Barbara Hepworth
    Judy Dater
    Rosa Bonheur
    Käthe Kolwitz

  8. Frida Kahlo
    Lois Maylou Jones
    Joyce Scott
    Mary Cassatt
    Georgia O’Keefe

  9. Louise Nevelson
    Barbara Hepworth
    Judy Dater
    Käthe Kollwitz
    Rosa Bonheur

  10. Helen Frankenthaler
    Joan Mitchell
    Georgia O’Keefe
    Pat Hickman
    Maile Andrade

  11. Mary Cassatt
    Frida Kahlo
    Grandma Moses
    Tamara de Lempicka
    Georgia O’Keefe

  12. Berthe Morisot
    Artemisia Gentileschi
    Frida Kahlo
    Vigée Le Brun
    Victorine Meurent

  13. Grieda Kahlo
    Marie Laurencin
    Alison Knowles
    Louise nevelson
    Marie cassatt

  14. Rosa Bonheur
    Camille Claudel
    Anna Hyatt Huntington
    Cecelia Beaux
    Elizabeth Catlett
    Elizabeth Nourse

  15. Tacita Dean
    Sophie Calle
    Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun
    Nikki de Saint Phalle
    Valérie Mréjen

  16. Frida Kahlo
    Georgia O’Keefe
    Barbara Hepworth
    Mary Frank
    Emily Kame Kngwarreye

  17. Artemisia Gentileschi
    Tamara de Lempicka
    Mary Cassat
    Suzanne Valadon
    Barbara Kruger

  18. Artemisia Gentileschi
    Frida Kahlo
    Georgia O’Keefe
    Tamara de Lempicka
    Hilma af Klint

  19. Mary Cassatt
    Berthe Morisot
    Georgia O’Keeffe
    Frida Kahlo
    Beatrix Potter
    Judy Chicago
    Grandma Moses

  20. Georgia O’Keefe, Grandma Moses, Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassatt, Tasha Tudor

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