Books that celebrate female artists

Lately, we’ve seen plenty of new releases celebrating the successes and influences of women artists throughout modern times and history. We’ve put together a collection of some of our favourites. Read on for some remarkable and inspiring artistic successes.


Del Kathryn Barton by Del Kathryn Barton and Natalie King

Containing 96 pages of the Archibald Prize-winning artist’s favourite works, Del Kathryn Barton is a collection edited by Natalie King as part of a series of monographs on Australian women artists. Barton’s work is luminescent and evocative, and she is widely recognised as one of the leading figurative painters of her generation. This stunning collection pairs each work with an introductory paragraph where one luminary from another field will write a powerful personal essay to accompany the piece.


The Art of Feminism by Helena Reckitt

With recent movements such as #MeToo taking centre stage, there can be no better time than to reflect on the contributions of female artists to the feminist movement. Whether it’s highlighting posters of the suffrage movement or exploring the cutting edge work of Andrea Bowers, Helena Reckitt’s The Art of Feminism is a one-stop shop for the legacy of the radical feminist canon. It features 350 works of art, illustration, photography, performance, and graphic design.


Nora Heysen: A Portrait by Anne-Louise Willoughby

This is the first biography published of Nora Heysen, the first woman to win the Archibald Prize in 1938 for portraiture. This remarkable artist was also the first woman to be appointed as an official war artist. An artist who focused primarily on portraiture and flowers, Nora Heysen’s life was constantly overwhelmed by an urge and passion to paint and draw. While she spent much of her working life in artistic obscurity, Heysen emerged in the late 80s onto the Australian art scene as the nation’s major art institutions restored her position. Willoughby’s biography has been enthusiastically accepted by the Heysen family and is a must-read for students of art history.


Women Artists by Flavia Frigeri

As women and women’s bodies have so often been the main focus of much of canonical art and often objectified, it’s refreshing to see a book that explores women’s contributions as art producers, not subjects. Flavia Frigeri’s Women Artists is one such book. Focusing on fifty diverse women artists from Artemisia Gentileschi to Louise Bourgeois, it provides a reader with a strong foundation of the contribution of women to art throughout history.


Polixeni Papapetrou by Polixeni Papapetrou and Natalie King

From the same series as Del Kathryn Barton, Polixeni Papapetrou is a collection of 96 of the artist’s most favoured works. Papapetrou, who sadly passed away in April of 2018, was a well-respected photographer who used her photo series to explore the personal identities of her subjects. Her work, at times surreal and dreamlike, and always evocative, has included photo series on famous faces such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.


Frances Hodgkins by Mary Kisler and Catherine Hammond

This is a rich, visual chronology of New Zealand-born artist Frances Hodgkins' travels and encounters abroad, containing 100 of the artist’s key paintings and drawings. While being a New Zealander by birth, the bulk of Hodgkins' art explores scenes from the United Kingdom, where she was most active. This book explores Hodgkins as a traveller across cultures and landscapes – teaching and discovering the cubists in Paris, absorbing the landscape and light of Ibiza and Morocco, and exhibiting with the progressive Seven & Five Society in London.


Mirka & Georges: A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan

An artist whose name is almost synonymous with the Melbourne bohemian art scene, Mirka Mora also ran a series of eateries with her husband George, entertaining both their nearest and dearest and the high-flying members of the elite (Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan were customers). Mirka & Georges: A Culinary Affair illustrates the Moras' romantic (in every sense of the word) story with delicious recipes and reproductions of Mirka Mora’s art.


Frida: Making Her Self Up by Claire Wilcox and Circe Henestrosa

Hers are among perhaps the most famous self portraits in history, and her iconic style and beautiful artworks have cemented her place in the annals of art icons. Frida: Making Her Self Up is a fresh perspective on the life story of Frida Kahlo; legendary artist. Here’s an interesting fact – Kahlo’s charisma and complete individuality in her personal style ensured she became one of the most photographed woman of her time. This book puts photographs of the artist alongside her own famous works in an unprecedented pairing.