From the Venus de Milo to the Grande Odalisque, women have functioned as artistic muses throughout art history. And for the vast majority of that time, female figures have been filtered through the male gaze. In Portraits of Her: Figures by Female Artists, Saatchi Art puts the perspective of women front and center, featuring over sixty depictions of the female form made by female artists. Specifically, the myriad works represented here reflect the exploratory approaches of women artists relishing in what is, whether consciously or unconsciously, a personal reclamation of the female subject. Ultimately, these featured artists bring forth the unexpected and exude an air of freedom and experimentation in their work.

As art critic John Berger famously observed in Ways of Seeing, patriarchal systems have resulted in women perpetually conscious of their own image, as conceived through the male gaze. In the face of this deeply embedded tradition of seeing and being seen, capturing the female form with a sense of freedom is an incredible feat for women artists and a respite for their viewers. In many of these works, this freedom manifests in the form of not taking oneself too seriously, as in the dreamlike illustrations of Alice de Miramon and the comedic, relatable photography of Tina Sturzenegger.

In some works, this liberty also results in confrontation: Painter Yana Medow exaggerates proportions and perspective to challenge traditional representations of the body, while Mack Brim uses hyperrealist painting and discomfiting closeups to create active female figures that defy objectification.

The embodied experience of the artist also lends empathy and viscerality to their depictions of women, whether themselves or others. Photographer Fares Micue finds pleasure and self-love in the act of self-portraiture, while Tetiana Albitska-Kostomarova uses sculpture to explore the physicality of diverse bodies and the experience of motherhood all through a lens of cheerfulness. Across these approaches, the works in Portraits of Her invite the audience to contemplate their role as spectators, the relation between artist and subject, and how these dynamics continue to evolve along with women in art and society today.

Co-curated by Aurora Garrison, Senior Curator, and Erin Remington, Associate Curator at Saatchi Art.