Women Who Used Self-Portraits to Transform The World

Women Who Used Self-Portraits to Transform The World
Women Who Used Self-Portraits to Transform The World

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. The saying is apt as there can be many thoughts and emotions that at times, cannot be adequately expressed or captured in language. However, aside from being beautiful, artworks like paintings and photographs can also be created for the purpose of improving society and spark the conversation for important issues in the artist’s respective communities.

Mexican Art and the Self-Portraits of Frida Kahlo

In the field of art, especially in the art form of self-portraits, it is impossible to make a list of notable women who challenged society and the world without mentioning Frida Kahlo. Her famous facial features – the slight mustache on her upper lip and the distinctive unibrow, is known globally in the culture and arts communities. Alongside herself, as the painting’s subject, her paintings also involved partner Diego River, parrots or monkeys. Her artworks emphasized the various elements symbolic of the indigenous culture of Mexico.

Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Nude Self-Portrait

During the past centuries, women were limited by society and often, by their own families to pursue a career or a lifestyle of their own. This was the case for female painter Paula Modershon-Becker whose parents desired for her a profession of teaching. She is well-known for her nude self-portrait painted in 1906 which was celebrated for its artistry as much as for its bravado. She is credited with pioneering the modernist movement alongside male artists like Henri Matisse.

African-American Art and Loïs Mailou Jones

African-American Art and Loïs Mailou Jones
African-American Art and Loïs Mailou Jones

More than being a woman, another social aspect that shone in the art of Loïs Mailou Jones is her racial and cultural background as an African-American. She was a painter who made use of oil and watercolor as a medium to immortalize the faces of fellow African-Americans in a series of portraits during the 1930s. Through form and color, her art aspired to celebrate the experiences and culture of African-Americans. She added her self-portrait to her artistic works in 1940, where she added to the celebration of African culture in her identity.

Vivian Maier’s Self-Photography

Vivian Maier is an American street photographer, and she is hailed as one of the best in the last 20th century. She supported herself and her art through her work as a nanny for various families in New York, where she was born, and in Chicago as well. Over 100,000 slides and negatives were discovered in 2007. Majority of her photographs featured herself as the subject. The discovery showed how Maier’s main subjects were capturing the reality of life on the streets and the challenging lifestyle of the marginalized and the poor in society. 

The Joyful Art of Judith Leyster

The Joyful Art of Judith Leyster
The Joyful Art of Judith Leyster

For millennia, men have claimed dominion over all forms of knowledge, industry, and crafts. Women were often doubted or discriminated when they aspire to compete with men. However, Judith Leyster was a female artist who was not dissuaded by the supposed gender limitations in the circle of artists. Her work is characterized by joyful and kinetic subjects made alive in the color and lines of her canvass. One of her most memorable work is a self-portrait of herself while happily painting.