“Artists don’t retire.” says Judy Chicago.The reason was clear.
The following 15 women have made a name for themselves for various reasons.The most important one is that they are exhibiting and creating at over 70 years old.They have gone against all odds and have outdone themselves leaving us breathless with their talent.
Their names will be a part of Art History and that is certain.
Behold the 15 art heroines.
1. Joan Jonas “Video has provided a way for me to represent layers of thought, to place one perception against another.”
Medium: Video and performance
Style: Dreamlike conceptualism
Superpower: Jonas was one of the early pioneers of video art in the 1960s and 1970s, her work aligning rhythm and ritual, identity and disguise, nature and technology to weave visceral visual experiences that linger like memories.
2. Louise Fishman “The activity in the rectangle is very much like the activity on the athletic court. It was athleticism in paint, traversing a very large court. It was so liberating.”
Style: Athletic abstract expressionism
Superpower: Fishman is one of the few female artists associated with the boys’ club that is Abstract Expressionism. Her muscular paintings turn color into a vehicle for speed and power, a vehicle that refuses to slow down at any cost.
3. Alice Mackler “I feel more comfortable with my work now, and I know that I am doing the best work in 2104. Keep on working, and tell yourself that you are a better artist than anyone else.”
Medium: Painting, drawing, sculpture, collage
Style: Playful feminist abstraction
Superpower: Although she’s been making art for most of her life, Mackler didn’t have her first solo show until 2013. It was critically hailed as “nearly perfect,” her playful lumps of women subtly reframing the way we see the female form.
4. Dorothy Iannone “When I was young, I aspired to complete intimacy with my partner, but as I evolved, I understood it was ultimate union with the beloved that I was seeking, and later, I called it ecstatic unity.”
Style: Erotic spiritualism
Superpower: For over 50 years, Iannone has translated feminine sexuality and free love into wild colors, explosive shapes and sublime gestures. Though in the ’60s her work was censored and deemed pornographic, she’s since risen to the category of “high priestess, matriarch, sex goddess,” where she belongs.
5. Carolee Schneemann “Every female artist who is using her body does so differently and with different motives and different aspects of physical intelligence. So a general condemnation of our actions as narcissistic is meaningless, absolutely meaningless.”
Medium: Video and performance
Style: Feminist face punch
Superpower: Since the 1960s, Schneemann has used various means of visual expression to challenge taboos and celebrate flesh in all its forms. Her solo exhibition in 2013 took on more historical and political themes, such as Vietnam War-era horrors and the World Trade Center attacks.
6. Gladys Nilsson “I’m an everyday person. I think in terms of just surviving the day on a personal level, rather than the solving of world problems. I just can’t do that. Other people can do that on a grand scale. For me, because I know how hard people work, celebrating little victories is as important as a peace treaty being signed.”
Medium: Painting, collage
Style: Balloonish cartoons rapidly proliferating
Superpower: A core member of Chicago’s “Hairy Who?” movement in the 1960s, Nilsson has continued to churn out her signature brand of feminine chaos, depicting fantastical ladies in domestic scenarios who just can’t be contained.
7. Yayoi Kusama “Since my childhood, I have always made works with polka dots. Earth, moon, sun and human beings are all represent dots; a single particle among billions. This is one of my important philosophies, which is accepted by many people.”
Medium: Painting, sculpture, installation
Style: Polka dotted fever
Superpower: Kusama has long been hailed as the Polka Dot Queen, turning the playful pattern into a vessel for self-obliteration and engaging with the infinite. Since 1975 Kusama has lived in a mental institution, though she still creates work every day and continues to draw crowds jamming up New York streets with her exhibitions.
8. Paula Rego “As you are drawing something, it very often turns into something else, and you can go with it. It develops in a completely different way, it’s organic and it’s done with the hand.”
Medium: Painting, pastel, printmaking
Style: Folk tales gone haywire
Superpower: Rego intertwines feminist themes with folk tales from her native Portugal, weaving jagged depictions that rival your most beautiful nightmares. Many works depict women as unfeminine, even animal, to combat the idealized, inhuman way women are often visualized in mainstream culture.
9. Lynda Benglis “My work is an expression of space. What is the experience of moving? Is it pictorial? Is it an object? Is it a feeling? It all comes from my body. I am the clay; I have been extruded, in a sense. How to tie it together? I don’t need to tie a knot. The forms of knots in my earlier work were expressive of this idea. I am the form.”
Medium: Sculpture, wax painting
Style: Material in motion
Superpower: In 1974, Benglis posed naked for an ad in Artforum with a giant dildo and sunglasses, challenging the misogynistic tradition of cover girls. In the years since, Benglis has stretched conceptions of painting and sculpture, rupturing tradition with her ceramic and polyurethane abstractions.
10. Yoko Ono “Whisper your name to the wind. Ask the wind to take it to the end of the world.”
Medium: Performance, installation, musician, activist
Style: Quiet roar
Superpower: Whether through absurdly poetic tweets, unauthorized museum exhibitions or the magic of a smile, Ono has imbued conceptual art with her particular brand of magic since the early 1960s. We can’t wait for her MoMA retrospective next year.