four Australian women artists

Spotlight on Four Inspirational Female Australian Artists

It’s International Women’s Day on 8th March. We’re marking the occasion by celebrating four female Australian artists and some of their most famous works.

We hope that by showcasing these artists, we can start a ripple effect. That we can get more female creatives in front of curators and into galleries — and get more of their art into our homes.

It’s part of our broader efforts to ensure more women’s artistic voices and experiences are heard and that we continue to reset the balance in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.

Yvonne Audette

Yvonne Audette was born in Sydney in 1930 and studied at New York’s Art Students League during the 1950s. During that time, she lived and worked within a community of critically acclaimed artists, including Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, and Mark Rothko.

Later, Audette travelled extensively across Europe before returning to Australia to cement her career. Her paintings are held in many significant Australian collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australian National Portrait Gallery, and Tarrawarra.

Audette is widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s greatest abstract painters. She was awarded Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours List for significant service to the visual arts.

Portrait of Robert Klippel (1980)

Cantata No. 17. (1968-69)

Jude Rae

Jude Rae was born in Sydney in 1956 and raised in Sydney. She studied Art History at the University of Sydney and undertook postgraduate study at COFA in 1984. Today, Rae is considered to be one of our country’s most important contemporary painters.

Rae won the Portia Geach prize in 2005 and again in 2008. The National Portrait Gallery commissioned her portrait of Frank Fenner in 2007 and one of her portraits was a leading image for the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Idle Hours in 2009-2010 — and in 2016 Rae received the prestigious Bulgari Award.

Her work can be viewed in collections across Australia and New Zealand, as well as the UK and USA.

Self Portrait (2008)

SL391, Oil on linen (2021)

Tracey Moffatt

Tracey Moffatt is highly regarded for her experimentation in film, photography, and video. She frequently references art history and her own childhood memories and fantasies — exploring gender, sexuality, and identity issues.

Much of her work also focuses on Australian Aboriginal people and how they are perceived and represented in our society. Moffatt’s work is held in collections worldwide, including Denmark, Germany, Japan, Norway and the United States.

You’ll also find her works in state galleries and several regional, university and private collections across the country.

Charm Alone, 1695 (1994)

Something More #2 (1989)

Julie Rrap

Julie Rrap  has worked in photography, painting, sculpture, video, and performance. She has won many awards, including the Hermann’s Art Award and the Redlands Art Prize. She was born Julie Parr but reversed her name to express her sense of opposition to mainstream society.

In 1994, Transpositions (see below) covered a wall with 100 historical printed female portraits on wood. Rapp has been quoted as saying — “You can’t look at an image, especially an image of a woman, with innocent eyes.” In this work, she dares us to consciously check our glances at these women and consider the narrative and dialogue we create with the work.

Eiko (2000)

Transpositions (1994)

A Final Thought: Women in Art — Past, Present & Future

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know four of our national treasures — award-winning, trend setting, genre defining and boundary pushing female artists that put women’s voices right where they should be; at the centre of our country’s modern cultural movement.

As a nation, we’ve come a long way, but we still have further to go. We’ll leave you with the now-famous quote from The Guerrilla Girls, a group of activist artists:

“Do women have to be naked to get into the Met? Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.”

It’s something worth contemplating this International Women’s Day — and the next time we visit a gallery or buy a print.

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