With International Women’s Day (8th March) fast approaching, I began reflecting on the great women who are currently in my life as well as those who have inspired me from a distance through their writing, film work and hard-working attitudes.
With this in mind, I have looked into the careers of five female artists – each from a different country on Art UK – to highlight their great works and achievements. All of the women below have brought their own personalities, talents and experiences to the arts and now is a particularly good time to recognise their contributions.
Marie-Louise von Motesiczky
Marie-Louise von Motesiczky was born in Vienna, Austria in the early 1900s but subsequently moved to England with her mother in 1939.
After taking a masterclass by German painter and sculptor Max Beckmann, her portraits and still life works began appearing in exhibitions across the globe including London, Vienna and New York. After 1960, Motesiczky’s mother became the subject of much of her work, detailing her journey into old age in paintings such as From Night into Day.
Despite becoming a well-known artist as a result of a 1985 exhibition at the Goethe Institute in London, Motensiczky highly disliked the idea of selling her paintings and often kept them in her house. After her death in 1996, her work became the possession of the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, which continues to honour her by preserving and promoting her work.
Lubna Agha was a Pakistani-American artist who, at a young age, became one of the most recognised painters in Pakistan.
Her earlier works were exhibited in galleries across Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and by the age of 22 she became the first female artist to have a solo abstract painting at the Arts Council. Agha’s work, after she moved to the US with her family during her early 20s, continued to develop and her focus and style moved from minimalistic paintings with cotton balls to oil on canvas and wood. Her painting Final Journey (Doli) is displayed in the permanent collection in Cartwright Hall located in Bradford. It's a piece that is considered part-feminist manifesto, part-funeral procession, depicting a ‘defeated’ bride dressed in a red sari being carried away by pallbearers.
Agha’s work, notably, did not reach a wider Western audience, but inspired and influenced many people of Indian and Pakistani descent across the globe.
Ana Maria Pacheco is a Brazilian sculptor, painter and printmaker who has lived and worked in Britain since 1973. She completed degrees in art and music, went on to pursue a postgraduate course at the Federal University of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro and eventually moved to England to attend the Slade School of Fine Art.
Pacheco’s work is exhibited in a number of private and public collections and she has exhibited her sculptures and paintings at the Galway International Arts Festival in Ireland, Norwich Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral. Pacheco has received a number of awards and appointments since 1970 including the Mário Pedrosa Award for contemporary artists and a Fellowship at University College London.
Jenny Holzer is an American artist based in New York whose work focuses more on the use of words rather than painted imagery. Her installations have gone beyond museum walls and have featured on advertising billboards, illuminated electronic displays and projections on buildings.
Holzer has also produced her verbal statements on t-shirts, stickers and became very fond of using LED lights too. Holzer has been awarded with many prestigious prizes in her lifetime for her out-of-the-box work, including, but not limited to, the Distinguished Women in the Arts Award from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. She now holds four honourary degrees as a result of her distinct contribution to the arts.
Since 2004, Holzer’s work has been inspired by declassified government documents, with this particular piece coming from the National Security Archive detailing plans of the Iraq War. By taking governmental documents out of their military contexts, Holzer allows the public to reflect on the realities of war and other issues in a way that is an alternative to what is shown in mainstream media.
Rhiannon Fraser is a British artist and University of Loughborough Fine Arts graduate. During her degree she was awarded joint-first prize in the 2008 Boundary Gallery Figurative Art Prize at the National Art Awards.
Fraser’s work, whilst notably consisting of beautiful and detailed oil on canvas pieces, has since expanded from canvas to the big screen. She has produced illustrations, murals and graphic designs for many blockbuster films including Star Wars: Episode VII, Paddington and Thor: The Dark World. Her most recent work includes HBO’s series Game of Thrones.
Precious Mayowa Agbabiaka