Paintings in Film | Biopics of Eight Women Painters | Frida Kahlo

Biopics of Twenty-Two Women Painters

There are uncanny parallels between the difficulties budding women painters and film directors have encountered breaking into their respective fields. And while progress has been made, it has been an unacceptably long haul. Twenty-one women painters have been the subject of one or more film biopic. Nine of the films now to come were directed by women.


Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653)

Katsushika Ōi (ca. 1800-after 1857)

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)

Hilma af Klint (1862-1944)

Séraphine Louis (1864-1942)

Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907)

Georgia O’Keefe (1887-1986)

Dora Carrington (1893-1932)

Maud Lewis (1903-1970)

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Leonor Fini (1907-1996)

Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941)

Tove Jansson (1914-2001)

Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943)

Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013)

Margaret Keane (1927- )

Eva Hesse (1936-1970)

Eva Svankmajer (1940-2005)

Annette Messager (1943- )

Ode Jaune (1979-)

The Singh Twins (1966-)


Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia (France/Italy/Germany 1997 by Agnès Merlet with Valentina Cervi)

The Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi was one (some consider the most important) of what by now has come to be acknowledged as a group of Italian women painters of the 16th/17th century including Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Elisabeth Sirani and Plautilla Nelli. Her works show a preference for strong, independent women, very often Old Testament heroes like Judith and Jael. Agnes Merlet’s film caused controversy after its release because of the way it depcicted Gentileschi’s relationship to her father Orazio Gentileschi’s fellow painter and friend Agostino Tassi. It has been historically verified that Tassi repeatedly raped Gentileschi whereas the film postulates a love affair between the two. On the other hand the film does convincingly show how 17th century women were the property of their male relatives and virtually totally excluded from careers as painters. In addition, we are offered numerous insights into the various painting techniques employed in that century.


Artemesia, Undaunted (UK directed by Marco Visalberghi, written by Bettina Hatami and Lynette Singer, hosted in English by Clive Rich, produced by BSkyB and broadcast as part of their 2011 Masterpieces series; Sara Ricci plays Gentileschi) mixes comments from leading art historians such as Mary Garrard, whose 1989 Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art was the first book-length study of Gentileschi, and the French author of three novels about her, Alexandra Lapierre, with dramatized renactments (in Italian with English subtiles). Gentileschi’s personal and artistic development is shown into what is described at the start as “the first woman in history to make a living from painting.”


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In “Muse,“ first broadcast 4 February 2018 as season 5 episode 1 of Endeavour, Ruth Astor takes revenge on the men who had gang raped her. Two of the murders are seemingly modelled after Gentileschi paintings: A taxi driver is shot then has a metal bar drilled into his ear (Jael and Sisera 1620), a history don is stabbed in both eyes with a steak knife (Samson and Delilah) and an art dealer is decapitated (Judith Slaying Holofernes). In the closing credit sequence certain letters of the crew’s names are colored red which in order spell out “Artemisia Gentileschi.” Reproductions of all three paintings in an art book in Astor’s possession provide the decisive clue. However, only the first painting Jael and Sisera is actually by Gentileschi. The second is The Blinding of Samson (1636) by Rembrandt—Gentileschi’s Samson and Delilah from 1600-38 emphasizes like most artists have done the cutting of Samson’s hair, not his blinding. And the third is Caravaggio’s version of Judith Beheading Holofernes (1599-1602) to which Gentileschi’s painting was conceived as an altogther bloodier, more ‘realistic‘ version. Despite these mistakes, the episode effectively links what Endeavour believes to be the theme of “powerful men brought down by women“ in Gentileschi’s work to the personal lives of both the painter and Astor.



Judith Slaying Holofernes, the 1620-21 version in the Uffizi, also plays a central role in the art theft-themed 1997 mini-series Painted Lady (UK/US TV 1997 directed by Julian Jarrold starring Helen Mirren). At 1:00:40—1:02:50 Susie Peel, the sister of Helen Mirren’s character Maggie Sheridan, is giving a talk about the painting cross cut with Mirren sketching what eventually became Gentileschi’s 1615 Judith and her Maidservant, which depicts the same event but after it has taken place. Sheridan then arrives at the talk at 1:01:20 to hear that Gentileschi was the only woman among the many Caravaggio followers, her reputation destroyed by her rapists Tassi and Cosimo Quorli and the subsequent trial with only her talent left. Peel speculates on why the painting has been so unpopular: Is it “because it terrifies men? She’s a free-sexed, mature woman who is neither Madonna nor whore. Temptress becomes executioner, bearer of life becomes the taker of life, beauty made captive her soul.”


Katsushika Ō

The daughter of the Ukiyo-e (‘pictures of the floating world‘) (late) Edo Period (1603-1868) artist Katsushika Hokusai, a genre to which she also contributed, she  finally managed to step out of her father’s shadows after having previously worked as his production assistant and justly gain the acknowledgement she has always deserved as an extremely skilled painter in her own right. She painted bijin-ga or ‘beautiful women‘ portraits and was also highly active as an illustrator of books.


Yoshiwara Night Scene or Display Room in Yoshiwara at Night (1844-54 hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper) depicts and ‘filmically’ captures Japan’s old brothel quarters in all their artifice and artificiality. Note the interplay of light and shadow as light emanates from (magic!) lanterns.


File:Yoshiwara Kōshisakinozu.jpg

Source: Wikimedia Public Domain


Kurara (2016, serialization 2014-15) is a novel by Makate Asai adapted for Japanese national broadcaster NHK television in 2017 as the documentary Kurara: Hokusai no Musume (Kurara: The Dazzling Life of Hokusai’s Daughter).


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Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot (France TV 2012 by Caroline Champetier with Marine Delterme, screenplay by Beth Archer Brombert after her own novel Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat from 1997)

Although the age Berthe Morisot grew up in was one where the world of artists was dominated by men, higher class women who could paint was regarded as part of a good education. At the same time they were denied access to professional training and recognition as professional painters. Because Morisot grew up in a well-off middle class family interested in art, she and her sister Edma were able to make the acquaintance of important painters. By doing so they also got the opportunity to take part in first rate painting lessons. The director and her screenwriters Sylvie Meyer and Philippe Lasry concentrate on the years 1865—1872, during which Morisot developed from a gifted amateur into one of the first French Impressionists. Appropriately many sequences show her painting outside in the open air.


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Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt: An American Impressionist (US TV 1999 by Richard Mozer with Amy Brenneman)

American-born Mary Cassat lived much of her adult life in Paris in the last century, her paintings often creating images of the social and private lives of women with emphasis on the bonds between mothers and their children. She was one of several successful Impressionists at the time. In the film we see how Cassatt’s Parisian solitude is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of her nephew and two nieces, but she soon finds herself inspired and uses the children as models. Cassatt’s teenage niece Katherine provides the narration.


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Hilma af Klimt

Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klimt (Sweden/Germany/Switzerland/UK 2019 by Halina Dyrska)


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In 1906, Klint completed her first abstract painting, long before Kandinsky, Mondrian or Malewitsch. She went on to paint over 1,500 abstracts (111 in one year alone!) yet only achieved recognition many years after her death and this despite her encyclopedic knowledge of biology, astronomy, theosophy and the theory of relativity. The documentary illuminates the numerous sides to this exceptionally talented Swedish artist.

Séraphine Louis

Séraphine (France/Belgium 2008 by Martin Provost with Yolande Moreau)

Séraphine de Senlis as she was also called after her birth place was one of the leading representatives of so-called ‘naïve/primitive art’ in France (she particularly detested the former designation). The film depicts how the German art collector Wilhelm Uhde unexpectedly discovers the hidden painting talents of his house cleaner Séraphine and decides to further her career just like he did those of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Rousseau. Uhde equally didn’t “care for the term” naïve and preferred that of “Modern Primitives” (1:02 DVD subtitles). Uhde also nurtured the talents of Marie Laurencin, one of the few women who was able to establish herself in Montmartre as a painter.

Paula Modersohn-Becker

Mit meinen Augen: Die Selbstbildnisse der Paula Modersohn-Becker (Germany short TV documentary by Regie Wilfried Hauke 2007)


Paula Modersohn-Becker: Geschichte einer Malerin (Germany TV by Wilfried Hauke 2007)


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Paula Modersohn-Becker, ein Atemzug (Germany documentary by Nathalie David 2007)


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Paula: Mein Leben soll ein Fest sein (Germany by Christian Schwochow 2016 with Carla Juri)


Paula Modersohn-Becker spent a large part of her childhood in Bremen and decided at an early age to become a painter. In 1898 she moved to the village of Worpswede north of Bremen to continue her education in painting and drawing. Two years later in Paris she first encountered French avant-garde painting. Children, old women and the farming women of Worpswede were the main sources of her inspiration. Only after her early death following the birth of her daughter Mathilde in 1907 did she achieve recognition as an important forerunner of modernism.


In marked opposition to the practice of many biopic directors mentioned in Inspirations and Speculations of deliberately reproducing the painterly style of their painter, here the whole filmic design draws on classical 19th century painting. The wide-open landscapes of the Worpsweder Moor have more in common with the art of someone like Caspar David Friedrich than with Modersohn’s own depictions of the North German lowlands. The glistening, almost blazing light in the film contrasts with the emphasis in her oil paintings on the heavily murky. And while the people in the film often seem to lose themselves in the landscape, they are foregrounded in Modersohn’s art, nature taking second place (see accompanying filmpedagogical material for school teaching prepared by the film’s distributor Pandora 18).


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Georgia O’Keefe

A Marriage: Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz (USA TV 1991 by Edwin Sherin with Jane Alexander)


Georgia O’Keefe (US TV 2009 by Bob Balaban with Joan Allen)


This world renowned painter of vulvic flowers, multicoloured animal skulls, and northern New Mexico desert landscapes full of rocks, shells and bones is now an established icon for many women’s movements. Within just one decade she took the male domain of the art world by storm and by the 1920s was already one of the most acknowledges women artists of her time. The Santa Fe New Mexico Georgia O’Keefe Museum (opened 1997) is dedicated to her life, art and legacy. The first film is a studio-bound American Playhouse presentation with Christopher Plummer as her photographer husband Alfred Stieglitz, the second a City Entertainment production in association with Sony Television with Jeremy Irons as the photographer and shot entirely on location in an around Santa Fe.


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Dora Carrington

Carrington (UK 1995 by Christopher Hampton with Emma Thompson)

Dora de Houghton Carrington known generally as Carrington, was an English decorative artist—painting on media as varied glass. tiles, pub signs, and the walls of friends’ homes —and painter of portraits and often of surreal(ist) landscapes. She was also associated with members of the Bloomsbury Group, especially the gay critic and writer Lytton Strachey, and the film concentrates on their relationship. It is divided into six so-called ‘chapters’ covering the years 1915—1932.


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Female Human Animal (UK 2019 by Josh Appignnanesi featuring archive footage of Carrington)

A mixture of documentary and fiction/fantasy, the director’s friend and novelist Chloe Aridjis plays (a version of) herself curating a Carrington retrospective at Tate Liverpool (as she did from 6 March-31 May 2015). See the links below then the trailer and introduction to the film from the director himself:


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Maud Lewis

Maudie (Canada 2106 by Aisling Walsh with Sally Hawkins)

Born on the Yarmouth and Acadian Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada, Maud Lewis spent the last 30 or so years of her life living in a house in Marshalltown. After her death in 1970 and the house’s subsequent deterioration, a group of concerned citizens started the Maud Lewis Painted House Society and eventually saved this valued landmark. In 1984 the house was sold to the Province of Nova Scotia and turned over to the care of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia where the final, fully restored house is on permanent display The film looks at how Lewis overcame the physical challenge of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to beome one of Canada’s premier folk artists.


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Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, naturaleza viva/Frida Still Life (Mexico 1984 by Paul Leduc with Ofelia Medina)


Frida Kahlo’s Corset (US/Spain 2000 by Liz Crow with Isolte Avila)


Frida (US/Canada/Mexico 2002 by Julie Taymor with Salma Hayek)

Already a legend in her own lifetime, Frida Kahlo has long since achieved mythical status and is one of the outstanding women of art history, having fought for her rightful place in an area until recently almost completely dominated by men. The Frida Kahlo Museum or Blue House in Mexico City (opened 1958) is a historic house museum and art museum dedicated to Kahlo’s life and work. In her film director Julie Taymor makes use of several tableaux vivants filmically staging Kahlo’s paintings, for example Frida and Diego Rivera (1931):


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In addition there are computer generated/animated versions of among others The Broken Column (1944). Finally, there is the stop-motion Mexican Day of the Dead-inspired dream animated by the Quay Brothers after she blacks out after the street car crash on her way to hospital where she then hallucinates the doctors as skeletons. For further examples and details see Cheshire 69-70.


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Leonor Fini

Leoni Fini (Belgium 1987 documentary by Chris Vermorcken on the Argentine Surrealist painter, designer and illustrator)


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The Cruel Legend (France 1951 short film by Alexandre).


See also Madonna’s Bedtime Story in the Music Videos section, and for a complete filmography see the filmography of Leonor Fini.


Amrita Sher-Gil

Born in Budapest/Hungary to a Punjabi Sikh father and Hungarian-Jewish mother, she was a pioneer of Indian modernism. The only reason Sher-Gil is not in the Queer Biopics section as well is that the film below is a documentary, not a feature film.


Amrita Sher-Gil (India 1969 by B.D Garga, a documentary on the painter’s life and works)


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Tove Jansson

Jansson belonged to the Swedish-speaking linguistic minority of Finland and excelled not only as a painter, but also as an illustrator, graphic artist, comic strip author, and writer, particularly of the Moomin books for children, which mirrored her bisexuality. The feature film Tove by Zaida Bergroth with Alma Pösty in the leading role was released in Finland on 2 October 2020 and deals with the artist’s post-war years, her search for artistic independence, her relationship with Atos Wirtanen and Vivica Bandler and the invention of the Moomins. Pöysti had already played Jansson in the theatre play of the same name and takes on the lead role here as well although the film is not based on the play.


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Eleanor Yule’s documentary Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson was broadcast by the BBC in 2012:


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Charlotte Salomon

Charlotte Salomon was born on 16 April 1917 and murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943 at the age of 26. She grew up in her secular upper class Jewish parents’ house in Berlin. Discriminated against as a Jew and forced out of art academy, she fled at the age of 21 into exile in Villefranche-sur-Mer in the South of France where she rented a room in the Pension Belle Aurore to complete 1,325 gouaches (opaque watercolour and tempera paint). 800/769/765 pages of these (accounts differ on the actual number) she subsequently picked out, made into bundles and placed into a package she handed over to her friend Dr Moridis with the words “This is my whole life“ or as she put it in Life? Or Theatre? “something wildly eccentric.“ 


Against the backdrop of the rise of fascism and ensuing reign of terror of the Nazis as well as the spectre of the suicides and sexual abuse of the women family members which haunts the text, the whole of Life? Or Theatre? is staged and enacted like a piece of (experimental musical) theatre or even Berlin cabaret in which images, music and text merge into one. In what is an early example of a graphic novel, elements of station drama, silent films, comic strips, flip books, (murder) ballads and cartoons are all blended together in colour-coded blues, greens, reds and yellow-and-golds to create a highly original multimedia artistic product the likes of which had never been seen before and which have not been seen since:


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It is a Singspiel (light opera/musical comedy) or as it’s called in the prologue to her illustrated novel “a tricoloured play“ with music where she assumes the roles of dramatist, director, set, stage, production and costume designer, musician, technician, actress and in addition all the roles of the dramatis personae. As she herself put it: “I was my mother, my grandmother, in fact, all the people who appeared in my play.“ We must, however, be careful not to assume this is a straightforward or even thinly veiled autobiography. There are three Charlotte Salomons: The real person who lived, the ‘Charlotte Salomon’ who is the mastermind and grand impresario behind the text of Life? Or Theatre? and the fictitious character of Charlotte Kann.


Moreover, Life? Or Theatre? not only includes numerous references to going to the cinema, but also employs numerous cinematic techniques such as rapid picture sequences, flash backs, parallel editing, high angles, close ups and voice overs. In addition, the text mentions the titles of traditional German folk songs, melodies from operettas, pop songs, hits and classical music—as if a soundtrack of 300 years of music history from Bach to Schubert and Bizet’s Carmen were constantly playing in the background. From this point of view it comes as no surprise to discover that ballets and operas have been composed based on Salomon’s work. What IS a surprise is how few film versions there are of Life? Or Theatre? The main reason is that the ‘novel’ itself is already a film or at least the storyboard for a film: There is nothing more to add. Nevertheless, four films feature Life? Or Theatre? in some way.


Charlotte (Netherlands 1981 by Frans Weisz with Birgit Doll as Charlotte Salomon)

The film begins at the train station as Charlotte Salomon says goodbye to Berlin to seek refuge at her grandparents’ villa in the south of France. Here she takes up painting as among other things a reaction to her mother’s suicide and grandmother’s depression. The film then continues with a series of flashbacks.


This Dutch-German co-production was written by the writer, lyric poet and playwright Judith Herzberg and its director Frans Weisz, who even lived for a period in Berlin, the city where his father Géza Weisz spent the first thirty years of his life until he fled to the Netherlands to escape from the Nazis. The “pictorial adviser” as he is called in the opening credits was the set designer Massimo Götz. Charlotte is clearly based on images and texts from Life? Or Theatre? see the musical interludes such as Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” J.S Bach’s’ “Be Thou Near Me” and [a brief extract from a performace of “What am I to do without Eurydice?” from] Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydike all of which play important roles in Salomon’s original work. Yet at the same time the opening credits state that the film is “based on the life of Charlotte Salomon” and so fiction and life have been conflated, thereby falling into the trap already indicated of using Salomon’s source merely as autobiographical fodder, a trap that virtually all other adaptations have fallen into. Charlotte Kann’s single voiceover also reduces the original’s tripartite Charlotte subtlety. In addition, throughout the film we see Salomon at work, for example on a gouache about the rise of the Nazis, and some sequences are obvious restagings of gouaches. Nevertheless, “translating paintings into mise-en-scènes, stories enacted by actors … effaces the materiality of the paintings and the specificity of the work as art in order to extract a narrative” that is consequently presented through the different medium of film (Pollock, Theatre of Memory 458).


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See the Jewish Cultural Quarter’s Charlotte Salomon – The Work: All about Charlotte Salomon. This contains Life? Or Theatre? in its entirety in Dutch, English, German and French and offers the opportunity to listen to it being read in English and to the musical extracts mentioned in the text. Further sections include Music in Life? Or Theatre? which lists these very recordings accompanying the images with links to the gouaches and The Complete Lyrics:


Life? Or Theatre? (Netherlands 2012 by Frans Weisz)

Weisz’ documentary follow up to his 31-year-earlier feature film weaves together


-interviews with people who knew Charlotte Salomon including her stepmother, the opera singer Paula Salomon-Lindberg


-family photographs, archival and newly shot film footage of Berlin


-sung musical interludes like among others Bach’s “If Thou Be Near” and Schubert’s “Murmuring Brook” (both used in the original novel)


-dialogue often taken directly from the texts written onto the gouaches in the novel


-images of Salomon’s gouaches from Life? Or Theatre? (which, however, are used as part of the documentary’s purely autobiographical reading of Salomon’s work) many of which are dissolved into its equivalent on-screen image from Charlotte, thereby making clear that some sequences of the earlier feature film were staged paintings


-excerpts from Weisz’ 1981 Charlotte plus Birgit Doll, who played Salomon, in Villefranche-sur-Mer then Nice in the South of France in 2012 in search of traces of the Salomon family there. As we see her reading the letters we hear her voiceover reading them aloud


In addition, a previously unknown and unpublished letter from Salomon’s stepmother, who had earlier requested its contents not be used in Charlotte, contains missing pages the stepmother and her husband had removed from Life? Or Theatre? In them Salomon’s fictional alter ego Charlotte Kann writes her “confession” to her love interest Amadeus Daberlohn that she gave her grandfather a “veronal (=poisoned) omelette.” It has since been speculated—also based on some gouaches and texts from Life? Or Theatre? depicting the grandfather in a threatening, potentially abusive light—that he had sexually abused Charlotte Salomon and possibly her mother as well. Various curators, academics and publishers are then confronted with this revelation at the end of the film. See Pollock, Theatre of Memory on this and the “double montage” of the documentary’s second sequence whose panning shots of gouaches from Life? Or Theatre? on a wall behind the interviewees create “the effect of each image being like a frame of a slowed down analogue movie” and “a line of images” that look like “a film’s storyboard” 462—468.


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Charlotte, vie ou théâtre? (France 1992 documentary in English by the Swiss documentary filmmaker of Italian origin Richard Dindo)

In an attempt to “reconstruct” the life of Charlotte Salomon, the film refers to Life? Or Theatre? as if it were pure biography and also incorporates “historical photo material and shots … made on location” for what it obviously sees as the “documentary context” see


Death and the Maiden (Israel 2014 half-hour documentary 2014 by Yael Lotem)

for the trailer where we are told (once more!) that Life? Or Theatre? is Salomon “paint[ing] the story of her life.”

Kenojuak Ashevak

Ashevak was one of Canada’s most important Inuit artists who made significant contributions to the fields of graphic design, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and carving. In 1961 she was the subject of the National Film Board of Canada documentary Eskimo Artist: Ashevak (directed by John Feeney) that introduced her to a much wider audience worldwide and was one of the very first Painter at Work films:


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Margaret Keane

Big Eyes (US 2014 by Tim Burton with Amy Adams)

Margaret Kean became world famous for her melancholy, if at times somewhat disturbing paintings of women, children and animals with large, round eyes. In the 1960s her husband Walter Keane falsely claimed he had done all her paintings and even sold them under his own name. After the case went to court the real artist was awarded four million Dollars in damages.


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Eva Hesse

Born in Hamburg in 1936 into a Jewish family that finally managed to emigrate as refugees to New York City three years later, by the time of her death in New York in 1970 Eva Hesse had amassed an impressive body of work incorporating Process and (post)Minimal Art, Arte Povera and Surrealism. Belonging to the early avant garde of feminist art, she is an important role model for many women artists. Hesse’s early work includes self-portraits, gouache paintings, collages and a series of abstract Expressionist drawings from the mid-1960s she characterized as “wild space” which marked the transition to her later sculptures although much of her work is poised between painting and sculpture.


Eva Hesse (Germany/USA documentary 2016 by Marcie Begleiter)

The film originated on the occasion of the “Eva Hesse  – One More than One” exhibition at the Hamburg Kunsthalle in 2013. The director is an art professor at the Los Angeles College of Design and lecturer at Cologne’s International Film School. Begleiter has followed Hesse’s work for years and shares the artist’s Jewish-German roots.


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Eva Svankmajerova

Having first studied interior design and puppetry in her native Czechoslovakia, Svankmajerova went on to become a surrealist painter, ceramicist, novelist, poet, and collaborator on 13 films by her husband Jan Svankmejer.


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Annette Messager

Annette Messager is a French photographer, installation artist, sculptor and assemblagist as well as a painter who has also been active in the fields of embroidery and taxidermy among others. The German art critic and author Heinz Peter Schwerfel has made two films about her, Plaisirs / Déplaisirs (2001) and Pudique et publique (2010).


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Oda Jaune

Who is Oda Jaune? (Germany 2016 by Kamilla Pfeffer Painter at Work)


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Ode Jaune was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and studied at the Art Academy of Düsseldorf from 1998-2003, after which she started to exhibit her work. She has been living and working in Paris since 2008. The German director Kamilla Pfeffer and her camerawoman Magdalena Hutter visited Jaune in her Paris studio and obviously intended a Painter at Work film which unexpectedly turned into an unusual Q and A session.


Further information:


The Guerrilla Girls have been fighting sexism in (the) art (world) since 1984. One of their early posters asked the question of whether women had to be naked to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, pointing out that both under 5% of artists in the Modern Arts Section and 85% of the nudes are women. And in 1971 Linda Nochlin asked and answered the question “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”


The Singh Twins

Sikhi Twin sisters Amrit and Rabindra Kaur (“twindividuals” as they call themselves) were born in London of Indian parents in 1966 then raised in Birkenhead near Liverpool before going on to study Contemporary Western Art at Liverpool University College of Chester. For the past twenty years their fusion of Indian traditional art (see their revivial and continuation of the Moghul Indian miniature tradition) and contemporary Western influences–“past modern” in their own words–has been exhibited throughout the United Kingdom as well as in France, the US, Canada and India. They have also been directing films since 2006 such as Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Via Dolorosa Project, a 2007 short documentary about their own painting depicting the Storming of the Golden Temple, Amritsar, by Indian troops in 1984, and the animation The Making of Liverpool: Portraits of a City. Their work consists of acts of rebellion and resistance against the British Empire, slavery, racism, and the legacy of colonialism in England today. Above all, their paintings deal with culture and identity in a globalised world.


The Singh Twins (UK short Painters at Work documentary 2012 by David Thompson, Jacob Taylor, Ariel Fisher and Tyler Gurd which shows both twins working on the same paintings simultaneously):


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Source: You Tube by Sikhlans


See also Studio Visit: The Singh Twins with accompanying three-minute feature at


A Woman’s Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts (2012) from the Great Museums documentary TV series introduces the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. It opened in 1987, has the most important collection of art by women in the world, and by now is the only institution in the world doing archival work on women artists. The documentary includes a look at “Feminism and the French Revolution” (08:24—12:40), “Feminine Impressions: A Woman’s Touch” (12:41—19:20), and “Anonymous No More” (19:22—24:04) featuring the work of Georgia O’Keefe, abstract expressionists like Joan Mitchell and Grace Hartigan, figurative artists such as Alice Neel and Audrey Flack, and finishing with Frida Kahlo. The conclusion drawn is that women artists are no longer “totally excised from the history books” (00:20). Art is ultimately seen as “the great common denominator” which everybody can enjoy (00:59).


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Source: You Tube by Great Museums


Many actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence and Rose Byrne among many others have spoken out against the bias against women in the US film industry as have the following nine female directors:


Nancy Myers

Catherine Hardwicke

Kimberly Peirce

Lexi Alexander

Kathryn Bigelow

Nell Cox

Lynne Littman

Mimi Leder

Betty Thomas


Women Make Movies addresses this under-representation see

and in Germany the Pro Quote Regie association demands the introduction of a quota system when it comes to awarding commissions to make films see


Finally, while Laura Mulvey is a feminist film theorist and Griselda Pollock a feminist art historian and cultural analyst, they have also published in each other’s areas, for example Mulvey on photography (Cindy Sherman) and Pollock on, for example the cinema of Alain Resnais.


Advancing Women’s Foundation Programme


Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence is a 2009 book in English and Italian by the American author, journalist and philanthropist Jane Fortune which describes the history of female artists in Florence and their hundreds of works in the city’s museums or storehouses. It has a number of contributing authors and twenty-six chapters on thirty-five women artists active in Florence. The book was the basis of a TV documentary (2012) see


Invisible Women also led to the creation of the Advancing Women’s Foundation Programme, which in the website’s own words intends to give “a voice to historic women artists” and thereby reclaim “the ‘hidden half’ of Florence’s art. The programme “is committed to safeguarding art by women and rediscovering a vital part of Florence’s forgotten cultural and creative heritage. Over the last decade, AWA has restored over 40 works by women artists from the Renaissance to the twentieth century.”


AWA is equally committed to the complete documentation of all their projects “by producing videos and full-scale art documentaries that help spread the word about restoration and exhibition of art by women.”


Short films about some of these ‘invisible women’ will now be included:


Sour Plautilla Nelli (1524-1588)


Violante Siries Cerroti (1709-1783)


See also Miscellaneous for Portrait de la jeune fille en feu.

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