Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) was a French artist who in 1894 became the first female
painter admitted into the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Her artistic career
lasted over four decades.
She started teaching herself to paint at
the age of nine, and studied techniques by modelling for painters in Montmartre.
Her work can now be admired at the MoMa in New York and the National Museum of
Women in the Arts in Washington DC, among others.
Gauhar (1956-2018) was
an actor, playwright and theatre director from Pakistan. She was also a women’s
rights activist, and the plays put on by her company dealt with social issues
and promoted a secular and equal society.
She studied at the University of London, but then returned to her native
country and founded Akoja Theatre in Lahore in 1983. Her 2007 play Burqavaganza, dealing with themes of gender discrimination and intolerance, was met
with calls for a ban and threats of sanction from the Pakistani government, but
found success internationally.
Daphne Odjig (1919-2016) was a First Nations artist from Canada. Her efforts were
crucial in bringing native Canadian art to the forefront of the country’s
She started drawing when she was a child, but
first gained recognition for her work in the 1960s, particularly for her illustrations
of traditional Cree communities and people. She opened the first gallery in
Canada to exclusively feature the art of Native Canadians, and co-founded the
Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporation in 1973.
Olive Edis (1876-1955)
was a professional photographer who owned a number of studios throughout London
and England. In 1919 she became the first official female war photographer in
She obtained her first camera in 1900, and
opened the first studio in 1905 in North Norfolk. She was one of the first
adopters of the new autochrome technique, an early style of colour photography.
Her subjects included many prominent figures in British history, such as
Emmeline Pankhurst or Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.
Anne Whitney (1821-1915) was a prominent American sculptor. Her works often featured
important historical figures, or depicted her liberal views on abolition or
women’s rights, among others.
Among the subjects of her sculptures were
Harriet Martineau, Lucy Stone and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her works can now be
admired in places such as the United States Capitol, at Harvard, or around
Left: Anne Whitney with her partner, Abby
Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was a Finnish author and illustrator. She is best known
for her Moomin children books, that became internationally famous and
She studied arts and design in Stockholm and
Paris, and had her first solo exhibition in 1943. She wrote the first Moomin book
two years later. In 1966 she received the Hans Christiansen Award, the highest
recognition for a writer or illustrator of children’s books.
Suzan Pitt (1943-2019)
was a painter and animator, whose career lasted more than four decades. She was
known for her acclaimed surrealist films.
Her first film was released in 1970, and
her best-known work, Asparagus, debuted in 1979 at the Whitney Museum of
American Art. She was also a professor at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts
at Harvard, and later at the California Institute of the Arts.
Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) was a Russian avantgarde artist, working in a number of
genres, including painting, costume design and illustration. She was one of the
founders of the Rayonist movement, a style of abstract art which developed in
the early 20th century.
was a prominent and influential artist, bridging the gap between Eastern and
Western traditions, and participating in numerous avantgarde groups. Her 1909
painting Picking Apples sold in 2007 for $9.8 million, a record for any
female artist at the time. Her work can be admired today at the Guggenheim and
MoMA, among others.
de Valois (1898-2001) was a dancer, choreographer
and director of classical ballet. She is known as the ‘godmother’ of English
and Irish ballet.
She started dancing from an early age, and
in 1927 established her own Academy of Choreographic Art in London. She went on
to establish the Royal Ballet, one of the most important companies of its kind
in the 20th century.
Agnès Varda (1928-2019) was a Belgian-French
photographer and filmmaker. She was a pioneer of the French New Wave film
movement during the 1950s and 1960s.
She made her first
film, La Pointe Courte, in 1954, and
continued working in the cinematic industry for more than five decades,
establishing her reputation as the ‘mother’ of the New Wave movement. She received
numerous awards and honours for her work, including the first Academy Honorary
Award for a female director.