10 Contemporary Artworks for Mother's Day
This May 13th, the world celebrates Mother’s Day, honoring the most important woman figure in our lives, but also maternal bonds, motherhood and the influence of mothers in society.
Mother’s Day should be every day – we should never stop cherishing and thanking these wonderful women for giving us life and for taking care of us forever. The notion of motherhood has been one of the most inspiring topics through history of art, as artists portrayed themselves, depicted them, dedicated artworks to them, express their feelings towards their mothers through them, simply celebrated the birth of humanity and the ever-lasting love of mothers.
And so, for Mother’s Day, we picked out 10 Contemporary artworks dedicated to mothers in their own unique way.
David Hockney - My Mother
Although he is known for his painting, David Hockney also does photography, and he is just as good at using this medium.
Over the years, the artist has developed a unique style in creating photo artworks – by putting them together in a collage, where each photograph plays an integral part of the artwork and has little sense on its own.
This is the case with one of the portraits of his mother, titled My Mother, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire, Nov 1982, depicting her on a graveyard on a rainy day. David Hockney continued working with photography this way, using Polaroids and perfecting his technical abilities.
Featured image: David Hockney – My mother, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire , 1982–1982. Photocollage, 119.5 x 68.5 cm. (47 x 27 in.). Image via Pinterest
Annie Leibovitz - Demi Moore
One of the most groundbreaking photographs of the 1990s certainly is Annie Leibovitz’s iconic portrait of then seven months pregnant actress Demi Moore.
The photo first appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine in August 1991 and it stirred a lot of controversy and reactions from admiration to shock. The significance of this image lies in the fact that it smashed prejudices towards the portrayal of pregnancy and it opened the door towards more understanding of the subject.
In 2012, Annie Leibovitz stated that the photo certainly “broke ground”, but that she doesn’t think it’s a good photograph per se.
Featured image: Demi Moore, seven months pregnant with daughter Scout, photographed for Vanity Fair’s August 1991 cover by Annie Leibovitz, via Vanity Fair.
Louise Bourgeois - Maman
It is a 9-meter high steel sculpture of a spider created by French artist Louise Bourgeois in 1999. Made of stainless steel, bronze and marble, it is entitled Maman, French for “mother” and it is the artist’s homage to her mother, Josephine.
For Louise Bourgeois, her mother was a weaver, strong, protective and nurturing, just like a spider. The sculpture, being one of the world’s largest, also contains a sac with 26 marble eggs, symbolizing the spider’s children.
The piece can be found at several permanent locations, including Tate Modern, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Mori Art Museum Tokyo. Louise Bourgeois died in 2010.
Featured image: “Maman” by Louise Bourgeois at the Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (ZSG) landing gate, Bürkliplatz (Alpenquai) in Zürich (Switzerland). Image by Roland zh via Wikimedia Commons.
Martin Creed - Mothers
British artist, musician and Turner prize winner Martin Creed is known using ordinary objects and giving them a new meaning. In his minimalistic approach, he also uses neon lights to create writings, and the one we see here represents a monument to motherhood.
The MOTHERS sign spins around at different speeds, seeming uncontrollable. The piece is made large because, according to Martin Creed, when we are small, our mothers seem so big and scary.
It has been subject of many exhibitions since its creation in 2011, including Hauser and Wirth, MCA Chicago and the Hayward.
Featured image: Martin Creed – Work No. 1357, MOTHERS, 2012. Image by Daniel X. O’Neil via Flickr.
Damien Hirst - The Virgin Mother
Provocative as ever, Damien Hirst created The Virgin Mother in 2005. It is a 10-meter tall statue of a woman, made of gold, silver and bronze, and installed in the courtyard of Lever House in New York, outside London’s Royal Academy and on Fontvieille Harbour, Monaco.
One half of the statue sees the naked pregnant woman, while the other shows what’s beneath the skin – the muscles, the bones, the fetus inside the womb. The sculpture is considered to be the female version of Damien Hirst’s Hymn sculpture, created between 1999 and 2005, and it references painter Edgar Degas and his 1881 painting Little Dancer of Fourteen Years celebrating mother’s influence on the child.
Featured image: Damien Hirst – Virgin Mother. Located at the Lever House, near MoMA. Image by Navin75 via Flickr.
Banksy - Don’t Forget Your Scarf Dear
There isn’t one Banksy artwork that isn’t tongue-in-cheek, thought-provoking and truth-speaking.
That being said, the Don’t Forget Your Scarf Dear isn’t an exception. The original version of this piece first appeared in an exhibit in Bristol, on a sepia mount and in an old-fashioned frame. As always, Banksy was addressing common issues of society, and in this artwork, we see a loving mother’s approach as she is taking care of her son, no matter what he is doing or what he looks like.
As it often happens with Banksy, this artwork was re-created on the streets, and it is unclear whether it has been done by Banksy himself, or someone trying to be him.
Featured image: Banksy – Don’t Forget Your Scarf Dear, via banksy.co.uk
Ron Mueck - Mother and Child
One of his “tiny” sculptures, Mother and Child (2001-2003), was created during his two-year post as Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London. Controversial and detailed, the artwork portrays a naked mother with her newborn baby on her belly, still linked to her through the umbilical cord, emphasizing the mother’s link to her child. Unlike Ron Mueck’s other, giant pieces, this one is only 24 x 89 x 30cm.
During this period, the artist also created the Pregnant Woman piece, which was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia for A$800,000 in 2002.
Featured image: Ron Mueck – Mother and Child , 2001-2003. Mixed media, 9 1/2 x 35 x 15in. (24 x 89 x 30cm.). Image via MutualArt.
Keith Haring - Fertility
Among the many everyday situations playfully depicted by the late Keith Haring, there is also the topic of motherhood. Whether it’s pregnant characters, characters holding their babies or playing with them, they are always colorful and happy, sharing the love like Keith Haring’s art always does.
The artist also created a painted steel sculpture dedicated to mother and child in 1987, three years before his untimely death. The work above was created in 1983, as part of his Fertility series celebrating birth and mothers along with four more artworks.
Keith Haring remains one of the most important figures of the New York City street culture.
Featured image: Keith Haring – Fertility 1, 1983. Silkscreen, 42 x 50 in. Image via georgetownframeshoppe.com.
Cindy Sherman - Untitled (Mother Embracing Children), 1976-1989
This Cindy Sherman photograph, Untitled, 1976-1989 was made in 1976, and it is one of the artist’s little known works.
In a less traditional self-portrait, we see her with two of the children that appear to be hers, in an emotional embrace, as if she just returned from somewhere or she is just leaving them.
As per tradition, the photograph probably depicts a scene from a movie, since Cindy Sherman is an acclaimed storyteller in that way.
Featured image: Cindy Sherman – Untitled (Mother Embracing Children), 1976-1989. Gelatin silver print, 13 5/8 × 11 3/4 in, 34.6 × 29.8 cm. Image via ragoarts.com
Andy Warhol - Julia Warhola
Among the many artists whose inspiration was their mother and, in this case, among the many icons he portrayed during his incredible artistic career, one of the best Andy Warhol portraits is certainly the one of his mother, Julia Warhola.
The pop art’s genius made this painting in 1974, two years after Mrs Warhola died in New York. Unlike his other works, that are mainly focused on mass production and the allure of everything pop, this portrait is perhaps his most intimate work, painted from scratch and depicting his mother in the most sensitive way.
It is one of those paintings that will leave a deep impression of you with its beauty, simplicity and strong impact.
Featured image: Andy Warhol – Julia Warhola, 1974. Image via revolverwarholgallery.com. All images used for illustrative purposes only.