This New Book Is the Most Extensive Anthology of Women Artists Ever Published

Laurie Simmons, First Bathroom / Women Standing, 1978. Photo: Laurie Simmons, © and Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York (page 374)

It’s no secret that most art history books tend to be short on women. But a new book seeks to redress that: Great Women Artists, out October 2 from Phaidon, in partnership with the luxury group Kering (which owns Gucci and Balenciaga), is the most extensive anthology of women artists to date. Spanning over 500 years of history, the book features the work and biographies of over 400 women artists.

The book includes all the artists you’ve heard of — Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, and Kara Walker — as well as many, many more you probably haven’t. “Considering that a lot of people probably couldn’t name ten women artists, I hope the book will introduce them to a lot of artists they might not know — and encourage them to follow up,” says Rebecca Morrill, who edited the book. “I’m hoping to stick some new names into people’s minds, so when they go into museums, or when they’re reading up online, they’ll think, Oh yes, I remember that artist, and then they’ll learn more about them. We’re really trying to encourage people to learn more of these names, so they become as common as Picasso or Pollock.”

Photo: Phaidon

The book’s title is a play on the title of Linda Nochlin’s seminal 1971 essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” “Georgia O’Keefe is said to have said that she didn’t want to be remembered as a great woman artist — she just wanted to be remembered as a great artist, period,” says Morrill. “We wanted to say: these are all just great artists that the reader ought to know about.”

With the support of Kering, Phaidon and Artspace are also launching a series of limited-edition prints by artists from the book, including Catherine Opie, Jenny Saville, and Lubaina Himid. Proceeds from the prints will benefit Promundo, a nonprofit that works to promote gender justice by working with men and boys to challenge harmful gender norms. The funds raised will support the launch of a Boyhood Campaign, an initiative by Promundo and the Kering Foundation. “The Boyhood Campaign will shift the media and social narrative around manhood and boyhood in the U.S. and globally, and will support parents, educators, and coaches with the resources they need to raise, teach, coach, and set an example for boys to become equitable and connected men,” says Laurent Claquin, President of Kering Americas. Click here to see the full suite of prints.

Jenny Saville, Chapter (for Linda Nochlin), 2016/2018. Photo: Jenny Saville/Artspace
Lubaina Himid, Theater of the Divine, 2019. Photo: Lubaina Himid/Artspace
Catherine Opie, Herstory, Women’s March, 2017. Photo: Catherine Opie/ Artspace
This Is the Biggest Book of Women Artists Ever Published