Get educated about our favorite female artists with these six books:
1. Women Street Artists of Latin America: Art Without Fear |Grafiteras y Muralistas en America Latina: Arte Sin Miedo by Rachel Cassandra and Lauren Gucik
Few books go into the work of female artists specifically, and even fewer into the work of Latin American artists. With a badass title and even more badass subjects, Women Street Artists of Latin America: Art Without Fear follows the work of female street artists in Peru, Panama, Colombia, Mexico and more. The book not only displays their gorgeous work but also gives readers an exclusive peak into their process, artistic goals and inspiration.
2. Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera
Diehard fans of Frida Kahlo should absolutely read this stunning biography by Hayden Herrera. It’s 528 glorious pages describing in vivid detail the love interests, medical challenges and painting philosophies of the iconic Kahlo. The biography paints a more layered portrait of Friday and lets you dive head-first into her complex life. You’ll be hard-pressed not to feel inspired — both creatively and personally — after reading it.
3. Women of Abstract Expressionism by Irving Sandler
Despite the overwhelming focus on male artists, female artists were very much a big part of the Abstract Expressionism movement. But they often got presented as the wives of the major male players of the time. Women of Abstract Expressionism takes a closer look at the work of artists like Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning and Joan Mitchell. It’s an exploration of the impact and a reminder that their work is still important today.
4. Diane Arbus: A Biography by Patricia Bosworth
As an iconic photographer, Diane Arbus has been written about plenty of times. But this biography takes a more layered view of the artist ‚ even putting her faults on display. As readers follow along her tumultuous journey to art world fame, it becomes obvious that Arbus is a complicated person (at least in this retelling of her life). In the end, it’s a story that feels strangely inspiring even while it’s a melancholic read.
5. Women, Art and Society by Whitney Chadwick
This volume is usually used as a textbook but it’s perfect for any art nerd, even outside of the classroom. Consider it a crash course in women in art, specifically women artists who discuss larger societal issues. Whitney Chadwick knows her art: as a professor, scholar, and writer she’s contributed to a number of show catalogs and lectured frequently about gender, surrealism and more. By no means the all-encompassing view of women in art, it’s a good start to seeing a survey of female artists’ contributions over a range of genres.
For more than 300 pages, Uri McMillan explores the issues of representation and performances of black women in black performance art. The book isn’t limited just to art, but also explores visual culture, music, and literature. The volume suggests that black women artists are taking back ownership of their bodies and engaging in “social misbehavior” in the process (in an empowering way). From Adrian Piper to Nicki Minaj, the book covers influential figures addressing the black female body.
Top photo: Frida Kahlo photographed by Nickolas Muray, via George Eastman House
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Eva Recinos is a social media manager and freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in LA Weekly, The Creators Project, PSFK, Refinery29, Cosmopolitan and more. She is less than five feet tall. You can see more of her work here and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.