10 Historic Women Photographers You Should Know
Let’s get our art history on.
Next month, Sotheby’s will bring a broad array of photography to the auction block, illuminating the impressive range of the medium through a survey of Modern and Post-War image makers. While audiences will get their fair share of the men who helped changed the history of photos — think Bill Brandt, Robert Frank, Weegee, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams — some of the most impressive names in the bunch belong to the 20th and 21st century women who have brought the art of photography to new heights.
Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin and Annie Leibovitz are indelible icons in the photography canon, having created works that art history students will be studying for centuries to come. Below is a primer on 10 of the historic women included in the upcoming photography sale at Sotheby’s. Add these ladies to your list of art world saints, pronto.
Beyond the list below, works by photographers like Doris Ulmann, Imogen Cunningham, Alma Lavenson, Consuelo Kanaga, Dorothea Lange, Ruth Bernhard, Berenice Abbott, Lisette Model and Lynn Davis will also be up for sale at Sotheby’s next month. However, there are, of course, many more woman photographers you should know outside of this sale, particularly the work of Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Graciela Iturbide and, of course, Cindy Sherman.
While Sotheby’s survey stands to correct the long male-dominated realm of photography by including many of the women who helped shape the medium, there still remains a lack of American women of color in the sale. This is yet another reason why we need curators to readdress the annals of art history to rediscover the artists mainstream institutions have ignored. These 10 women deserve every bit of recognition next month, but there’s no harm in pushing auctioneers to bring a more diverse lot of artworks to the table.
In that spirit, let us know which photographers you’d add to the sale in the comments.
Sotheby’s “Photographs” sale will take place on Oct. 7 at 10 a.m. in New York City.
1. Ruth Orkin
Orkin worked steadily from the 1940s to the 1980s, shooting for publications like The New York Times and Life, co-directing an Oscar-nominated film, and showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before she died in New York City in 1985.