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An Homage to the Female Portrait

  • Andy Warhol - Photograph of Farrah Fawcett Majors
December 13, 2018
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

Throughout the art history, the genre of the portrait was quite popular and highlighted not only the status of the depicted person, moreover psychological and physical characteristic of hers or his personality. The development of female portrait can be dated from the ancient times (such as famous Egyptian Fayum portraits), yet it can be said that since the Renaissance it becomes more or less autonomous and has a particular path (a good example are two paintings by Leonardo De Vinci Lady with an Ermine and Mona Lisa).

The beginning of the 20th century brought a rapid emancipation of woman, which was reflected on the canvases of modern artists. The very approach to female portrait completely changed during the 1970s with the second wave of feminism and various others critical analyzes of the male gaze. Finally, the contemporary artists which produce female portraits are focusing on different aspects of femininity – from it’s bespoke beauty to it’s social, cultural, economic, and political implications.

We selected ten artworks we find are representing women the best, from all the possible angles, which you can add to your collection.

Featured image: Andy Warhol – Photograph of Farrah Fawcett Majors, 1979. All images courtesy of their respective galleries

  • Miss Van - Desnudo III

Miss Van – Desnudo III

The first on our list is a French graffiti and street artist Miss Van. She is best known for cartoonish and slightly eroticized depictions of the female body. The women in her works are represented as seductive, yet innocent and even mysterious figures. It seems as if they are exploring their sensuality for themselves regardless of the (male) observer.

The work titled Desnudo III illustrates that well. Interestingly so, this image seems to be a portrait of a voluptuous performer perhaps a cabaret or burlesque dancer and is reminiscent of the works of Expressionists.

See more info about the work here.

  • Hannah Perry - Smooth as silk

Hannah Perry – Smooth as silk

British artist Hannah Perry is mostly producing films, installations, prints, and live performances. Her artistic practice can be described as a hybrid one – she combines different elements and embraces various historical and current cultural references in order to construct multilayered narratives fitting for the digital era.

Smooth as silk is a digital print Perry produced this year, and it features part of female face multiplied and set against the neutral surface and glued with brown duck tape. It is yet another work through which the artist criticizes the power of the mass media to shape our desires and identities.

See more info about the work here.

  • Ben Frost - Lolita

Ben Frost – Lolita

Ben Frost is an Australian visual artist who devotedly explores the cannons of Western culture and society through his lucid and colorful works. His imagery is constructed of various confrontational and controversial visuals found in advertising, entertainment, and politics.

His latest work simply called Lolita is a print which mimics the book cover of this prolific novel. It embodies the main features of his kaleidoscopic Pop approach, as well as his fascination with graffiti, collage, and photo-realism.

See more info about the work here.

  • Valentin van der Meulen - Mouth

Valentin van der Meulen – Mouth 2

The following work was made by a French artist Valentin van der Meulen, best known for his charcoal and drawing works. His process is actually based on a fabrication and deconstruction of certain images found in print, the internet, and his private archive. Final works are compositions partially or totally erased, so the original context and subject are lost or forever changed.

Such is the case with the work simply called Mouth 2, which is, as the title suggests, a cut out drawing of a cropped female mouth.

See more info about the work here.

  • Mel Ramos - Hamburger Girl

Mel Ramos – Hamburger Girl

Mel Ramos was an established American figurative painter and one of the proponents of Pop Art. He was best known for female nudes emerging from different packages such as cornstalks candy wrappers or martini glasses. By combining elements of realism and abstract art, Ramos created witty and vibrant artworks which function practically as an adult adds or covers for peep shows.

Hamburger Girl is a print made in 1965, and it features a nude girl sitting desperate on a hamburger.

See more info about the work here.

  • Lakshmi Mohanbabu - Pink Ebony

Lakshmi Mohanbabu – Pink Ebony

Next artist on our list is a work by Singaporean artist Lakshmi Mohanbabu. Working with a variety of media, she explores different topics by incorporate cross-cultural elements.

The work Pink Ebony belongs to Mohanbabu’s Colours Of Unity Series which is a direct commentary on issues of racial discrimination and gender bias.

See more info about the work here.

  • Jef Aerosol - Raw Power

Jef Aerosol – Raw Power

Jef Aérosol is the pseudonym of Jean-François Perroy, a famous French stencil graffiti artist and a leading proponent of the first generation of street artists who started working in the 1980s. Throughout the years, he managed to construct an authentic aesthetic which is easy to recognize because of his signature motif of the red arrow.

This particular work called Raw Power depicts a portrait of a girl dazzled with the sound of music.

See more info about the work here.

  • Rocio Villanueva - Abandonment

Rocio Villanueva – Abandonment

Next work on our list is made by a Italian-Guatemalan self-taught photographer and artist Rocio Villanueva. She works uses both digital photography and canvas as her main tools for creation. Through her works, the artist articulates imaginary landscapes e.g. parallel worlds which are accentuated with the use of light and shadow, color and textures.

Villanueva produced the work Abandonment in 2017, and it is a gloomy portrait of a fantasy being inhabiting those nonexistent worlds so fond to the artist.

See more info about the work here.

  • Hank O'Neal - Jackie

Hank O'Neal – Jackie

An established American photographer, music producer, and author Hank O’Neal is best known for his portraits of friends and associates, images he shot around the world, and projects which lasted two or three decades. In the 1970s O’Neal was associated with a diverse group of photographers such as Walker Evans, André Kertész and Berenice Abbott.

This astounding portrait of the former first lady Jackie Kennedy tells much about her influence on the development of American culture, as well as of her being a fashion icon.

See more info about the work.

  • Andy Warhol - Photograph of Farrah Fawcett Majors

Andy Warhol – Photograph of Farrah Fawcett

The last portrait on our list is a 1979 photograph by none other than the Pop Art legend Andy Warhol. It depicts one of the best-known actresses from the 1970s, original Charlie’s Angel, and a femme fatale, Farrah Fawcett. Interestingly so, Warhol also did her portrait on silkscreen print which was the subject of a lawsuit under ownership acquired by her late lover Ryan O’Neal who ultimately won a case.

See more info about the work here.