The Beauty of Beautiful Women Art
Artists have always delighted audiences by painting beautiful women – from ancient fertility statues to contemporary masterpieces – in all their sensuous glory. Artists have depicted sensuous curves or captivating gazes to leave lasting impressions upon viewers of many works that feature female subjects.
However, most paintings depicting women are created by men. What does that imply for both art and society as whole?
1. Egon Schiele
Schiele’s work is widely recognized for depicting sensual sexuality. His subjects were drawn from local people; teenage girls would pose nude for him as his subjects. His paintings often combined sensuality and the macabre to produce bizarre yet exquisite works.
Schiel’s father died from syphilis at 45, which some consider a possible source of his fascination with human sexuality. After three years studying art at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts he left to pursue more independent styles of painting; today the Leopold Museum holds one of his largest collections at over 200 pieces!
In this piece, the viewer is placed at an elevated viewpoint looking down upon a woman bending forward in a seductive posture, wearing only bright blue stockings that stand out against her bony body.
This painting was completed just days before Schiele died of Spanish Influenza at age 28; Edith Harms would also succumb shortly thereafter, though both artists are widely recognized as great artists with an intimate bond despite their tragic end of lives.
2. Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt was one of the leaders of Vienna Secession movement and an inspiration to Egon Schiele; an Austrian Symbolist painter, sketcher, sculptor who was known for creating many murals and objects d’art; most notable were his women-centric paintings that often included gold leaf.
His work was informed by the psychological investigation and sexual preoccupation prevalent within Viennese avant-garde art. Works such as Judith and Holofernes (1901) and Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) show women in sensuous poses enhanced with elaborate ornamentation that heightens both beauty and sensuality.
He would later boldly depict lesbians in works such as Water Serpents I and II; however, for this painting he decided to give them a fairytale context so as not to provoke censorship.
Mother and child are an exquisite pair, but what sets this painting apart is the artist’s remarkable ability to capture their intimate connection through vibrant colors and intricate patterns. Klimt was first drawn to Asian art during his 1890s studies of Japan; later exploring Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Persian creative styles throughout his career.
3. Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol’s work often conjures an aesthetic that seems at odds with its subject matter. A pioneer of pop art, his prints offered commentary on various aspects of American life. One of Warhol’s signature works was The Marilyn Diptych which features repeated images of Marilyn Monroe while simultaneously stripping her personality away and turning her into just another celebrity figure for mass consumption.
Once he had graduated high school in 1945, Warhol attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) to study commercial art. Here is where his early skills in pictorial design developed; this can be seen through their linearity in earlier drawings of his.
Warhol moved to New York and established his career as a commercial artist in the 1950s, quickly becoming famous for his celebrity portraits made using photographic silkscreen printing technology – this allowed him to directly reproduce publicity shots and tabloid photographs directly into silkscreen prints.
Warhol was also an avid photographer, frequently taking images of everyday objects like footprints in sand or graffiti on walls. His photography also explored what made art, which can be seen through his self-portrait series where he often exaggerated, transformed or disguised himself – such as this self-portrait from 1986 featuring him wearing his silver “fright wig” while gazing blankly ahead.
4. Joan Semmel
Moran Moran Gallery is pleased to present Joan Semmel’s first solo exhibition with us and in Mexico City. This showcase brings together twelve paintings all executed in oil on canvas from 2018-2021 that highlight some of Joan Semmel’s most impressive recent work and provide insight into a productive period during which she prepared for her retrospective at PAFA in Philadelphia which will run through April of 2022.
Since the early 1970s, Semmel has included painted images of her own body into her paintings. These realistically rendered nude self-portraits crouch, lean and sway in various poses that defy easy categorization; although some might see these works as sexualized or responding to mainstream notions of femininity; they remain deeply intimate affirmationss of female autonomy.
Similar to Johannes Vermeer’s early figurative paintings, Semmel’s paintings use the body as a tool for probing ideas about identity and challenging existing notions about it. But unlike Vermeer who was not seen as primarily feminist painter; Semmel challenges this perception that women’s bodies should subservient to art world culture at large.
5. Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ art transforms domestic environments into forms of artistic creation. Her works explore pedagogical structures, systems of labor, sociality and ethics; her Pennsylvania home/artist colony Mildred Complex(ity) serves as the site for her creative practice where no household item goes unused in her creative practice.
Beginning her career at a time when Pop Art, assemblage, and conceptual art valued ideas over objects–she credits Marcel Duchamp as her major source of influence; quickly moving beyond conceptual art into embodiment. Documenting her actions she titled them “private performances of personal maintenance as art”. Pieces such as Rinsing a B.M Diaper; Dressing to Go Out/Undressing to Come In; Washing/Tracks/Maintenance: Outside are intimate tasks like washing steps and scrubbing sidewalks while labeled art as art works by her artists.
One of her most celebrated works, Touch Sanitation Performance, saw her shaking hands with all 8500 sanitation workers in New York City to acknowledge and appreciate their daily efforts that keep our city alive and well. This work highlighted how these workers–mostly women–are often underappreciated. She pioneered service-oriented art through linking conceptual process art with domestic and civic maintenance issues – she calls this kind of artwork “art that does something.”
6. Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann was an artist of global reach who explored themes of love, sexuality and anguish through interspecies relationships, dreams visions, war deaths and feminism with unrestrained sensuousness yet compositional rigor throughout her six-decade career.
Schneemann was known for her dynamic theater performances that integrated her body as part of the work. These challenging pieces challenged social taboos while providing an affective map for generations of performance artists to follow. Trained as a painter first, Schneemann employed compositional aesthetics within her radical multidisciplinary practice which also encompassed video, collage, and assemblage works.
Meat Joy (1964), her most well-known work, depicted a group of seminude women and men writhing naked amid an explosion of raw fish, chicken, and sausage while an amazed bourgeois audience looked on in wonderment.
Schneemann’s performances were inspired by both her unconscious nocturnal workings of mind, life experiences, including her struggles with mental illness, and works like Mortal Coils (which combined projected portraits with winding ropes, newspaper obituaries, bodily entrails and bodily organs) to explore themes like memory loss and grief; her art served as a living memorial to friends who died due to AIDS-related illnesses; this continued into more mediated forms like video and multimedia installations in later years. Schneemann performed until 2000 before transitioning more mediated forms like video and multimedia installations took over full force in more recent times.
7. Yoko Ono
Long before Tracey Emin made headlines for challenging norms regarding her body, Yoko made history when she posed nude with John on their album cover and made public her miscarriage and incorporation of unborn child’s sound into song. Yoko’s art combines music and activism into one ongoing project encouraging peace around the globe.
Yoko Ono is one of the few artists able to remain relevant after decades of controversial works. Her works combine modernist skepticism with postmodern spontaneity and avant-garde ideallism with pop-songwriter practicalities – her music still resonates today and experimental musicians like John Cage and La Monte Young have drawn inspiration from it.
Yoko’s challenging childhood was also at the heart of her work. Born in Tokyo to conservative aristocratic parents, she experienced parental neglect due to their career obsession as an international banker, sexual assault from Japanese military soldiers, sexual assault by former lovers and mental torture from Japanese military personnel. All this gave Yoko a profound edge as an artist: her iconoclastic vision inspired later female performance artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija and Suzanne Lacy to take risks themselves.