Françoise Gilot is a French painter whose professional career was overshadowed by her long and turbulent relationship with Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. After breaking up with Picasso, with whom Gilot had two children, the former deterred galleries from buying her work. He even tried blocking the release of her memoir Life With Picasso which was released in 1964.
Born to a French mother and a Croatian father, Dora Maar spent her childhood in Argentina and later studied art in Paris. The renowned surrealist artist and photographer later gained fame as Pablo Picasso’s lover and muse, and was featured in his paintings such as Weeping Woman.
Marie Tussaud was a French artist and sculptor best remembered for her wax sculptures. She founded Madame Tussauds, a wax museum, in London in 1835. The museum is a major tourist attraction today. As a young girl, she learned wax modeling from doctor cum wax modeler Philippe Curtius. In the ensuing years, she became a prominent sculptor.
Claude Cahun was a French sculptor, surrealist photographer, and writer. He is best remembered for his work as a self-portraitist and writer. Apart from his primary career, Claude Cahun also played a major role in the Second World War, serving as a propagandist and resistance worker.
Rosa Bonheur was a French artist and sculptor whose paintings have been preserved in popular museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée d'Orsay. An influential personality, Bonheur was widely regarded as the 19th century's most popular female painter. An open lesbian, Rosa Bonheur stood out as a groundbreaking individual both in her personal life and her career.
Niki de Saint Phalle was a French-American painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. She gained prominence as a monumental sculptor as not many women were renowned for their skills as monumental sculptors. Also remembered for her social work, Niki was one of the earliest artists to spread awareness about AIDS through art. She also wrote extensively in English and French.
A pioneer of abstract art and Orphism, French artist Sonia Delaunay was the first living female to have an exhibition at the Louvre Museum. Her art extended to stage sets, pottery, and fabrics. She and her husband, Robert Delaunay, collaborated on various public projects, including murals.
Sophie Calle is a French photographer, writer, conceptual artist, and installation artist. Her work is associated with and evokes a popular French literary movement called Oulipo which came into existence in the 1960s. Renowned for her ability to investigate strangers, Calle’s work often depicts human vulnerability. Also an educator, Calle has taught at popular educational institutions like European Graduate School.
A prominent figure of early-20th-century Russian painting, Zinaida Serebriakova was the daughter of equestrian sculptor Evguni Lanceray. She was also part of the Benois art family. While she experimented with landscapes and peasants, a major part of her art focused on nudes and portraits. Bleaching Cloth remains one of her best works.
Marie Laurencin was a French printmaker and painter. An important member of the Cubists within the Groupe de Puteaux, Laurencin was an influential figure in the Parisian avant-garde. Today, her works can be seen at popular museums like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in the USA, the Tate Gallery in the UK, and the State Hermitage Museum in Russia.
Anna Boch was a Belgian painter best remembered for her Impressionist style. Apart from painting, Boch also held one of the most prominent collections of Impressionist paintings. Anna Boch is also remembered for supporting and promoting young artists like Vincent van Gogh.
Known for her elegant, unstructured designs, fashion designer Nicole Farhi began her career as a freelancer in Paris before moving to London. Eventually she joined French Connection as the head of its design studio in Bow, very soon launching her own label under the company’s umbrella. She gradualy expandied it to include shoes, accessories, home décor, opening shops and even restaurants.
Born to a French father and a British mother, Sophie Gengembre Anderson was a self-taught artist. The family fled to the U.S. to escape the French Revolution. A master portraitist and a major Pre-Raphaelite figure, Sophie specialized in painting women and children, with cats and natural elements thrown in.
Though born in the US, Florence Henri traveled to various places, such as Silesia, Rome, and London, following her parents’ death. Initially well-versed in the piano, she later focused on painting. At age 34, she was introduced to photography at the Bauhaus and later explored techniques such as the photomontage and negative photography.