How the Art World Airbrushed Female Artists From History?

The art world is notorious for its lack of diversity and inclusivity. Female artists throughout history have been consistently overlooked, undervalued, and airbrushed out of art history textbooks. The concept of the “great artist” has always been synonymous with men, leaving female artists struggling to gain recognition for their work.

The Erasure of Female Artists from Art History

From the Renaissance era to contemporary times, women have been systematically excluded from artistic movements and institutions. Despite their undeniable contributions to art, female artists have long been overshadowed by their male counterparts.

During the Renaissance era, women were not allowed to study art in academies or guilds. They were only permitted to paint as a hobby. As a result, few women were able to make a name for themselves in the art world, let alone establish successful careers as artists.

In the 19th century, female artists faced similar obstacles. They were barred from attending life-drawing classes where nude models were present.

This prevented them from mastering an essential skill required for creating realistic portraits and figure paintings. Moreover, galleries refused to exhibit their work due to conservative societal norms that dictated that women should not be involved in professional pursuits.

The Impact of Gender Bias on Female Artists

The underrepresentation of women in the arts has had a profound impact on their careers and legacies. Many talented female artists went unrecognized during their lifetime because they did not fit into society’s narrow definition of what constituted an artist.

  • Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most celebrated Baroque painters, was denied admission to prestigious art academies simply because she was a woman.
  • Mary Cassatt, an Impressionist painter famous for her depictions of motherhood and children, struggled to gain acceptance from her male peers who dismissed her work as sentimental.
  • Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter known for her self-portraits, was often overshadowed by her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera.

The Need for Gender Equality in the Art World

It is essential to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of female artists throughout history. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive and diverse art world that reflects the richness of human experience.

Today, there are many organizations dedicated to promoting gender equality in the arts. For example, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. is committed to showcasing female artists and their works.

The Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of feminist artists, have also been actively protesting against gender inequality in the art world since 1985. They use provocative posters and performances to draw attention to the lack of representation of women and people of color in museums and galleries.


The erasure of female artists from art history is a reflection of society’s deep-rooted gender biases. The art world must acknowledge and address this issue by showcasing more female artists and promoting their work. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive and diverse art world that reflects our shared humanity.