In honor of International Women's Day, we've collected some of the most influential American female painters we think deserve your attention. At LES Collection, a female-founded and run company, we are especially proud of our roster of female artists that we are privileged to get to work with every day. Today we celebrate and thank the women who came before us - the women who were bold enough to stand up alongside the men, and the ones who carved out a distinct place of their own within art history. As always, please let us know who we should add to our list!

Mary Cassatt, 1844-1926

Mary Cassatt began her arts education at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, at the early age of fifteen. Cassatt soon moved to Paris, where she studied privately under Jean-Leon Gerome since women could not yet attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She would stay in France for much of her life, where she was one of the few females, and only Americans, to exhibit alongside the Impressionists. Her work focused on the social and private lives of women, and in particular the relationship between mother and child.


Mary Cassatt, Portrait of the Artist, 1878


Spanish Dancer Wearing a Lace Mantilla, 1873


Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly, 1880



Lilacs in a Window (Vase de Lilas a la Fenetre), 1880-83




Children Playing on the Beach, 1884


Woman Bathing (La Toilette), 1890-91


Young Mother Sewing, 1890


Mother and Child (The Oval Mirror), 1899




Georgia O'Keeffe, 1887-1986

Born in 1887, Georgia O'Keeffe was an American artist and considered to be the "Mother of American Modernism". She played an important part in the development of modern art in America, becoming the first female painter to gain respect in New York's art world in the 1920s. She pioneered the new Modernist style with her large-format watercolor paintings of natural objects like flowers, animal skulls, and, later in her life, the landscapes near her Santa Fe, New Mexico home. 

Photograph by Philippe Halsman





Grey Line With Black, Blue And Yellow, 1923



Pink Tulip, 1926




Red Poppy, 1927


Jack-in-Pulpit Abstraction - No. 5, 1930


Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue, 1931


From the Faraway, Nearby, 1938


My Front Yard, Summer, 1941



Elaine de Kooning, 1918-1989

Elaine de Kooning was an American painter, writer, and teacher. Although she was a major figure in both the Abstract Expressionist and American Figurative Expressionist movements of the 1940s and 1950s, de Kooning eschewed developing a singular style and instead painted in a range of modes from realism to abstraction. A skilled portraitist,  de Kooning was commissioned to paint then. President John F. Kennedy in 1963. 

Photograph by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders


Joop Pink, 1946



Self Portrait, 1946


Abstract Composition, 1956



Charging Bull, 1959



John F. Kennedy, 1963



The Burghers of Amsterdam Avenue, 1963



Bacchus #3, 1978



Cave #54, Sand Wall, 1985



Helen Frankenthaler, 1928-2011

Helen Frankenthaler, an American and New Yorker, pioneered a new style of abstract expressionist painting in the 1950s. Her signature "soak stain" method, where she combined drip techniques with her own innovation of thinning oil paints to liquid consistency and soaking her canvasses  as in watercolor painting, created penetrating, saturated color. She found success at a young age and within a crowded New York field of talent, including Elaine de Kooning, and Lee Krasner - her seminal work, Mountains and Sea, 1956-59, was finished before her twenty-fourth birthday. 

Photograph by Alexander Liberman



Painted on 21st Street, 1950



Jacob's Ladder, 1957



Mountains and Sea, 1956-59



Cool Summer, 1962



Small's Paradise, 1964



Sea Level, 1976



Sphinx, 1976



Grey Fireworks, 1982



Kara Walker, b. 1969

Kara Walker, born in Stockton, California, is a leading artist in her generation. She works in a variety range of mediums, including prints, drawings, paintings, sculpture, film, and the large-scale silhouette cutouts she is most known for. Her dynamic and provocative work uses contradiction to comment upon the ongoing themes of slavery, sexism, violence, and identity. Walker first gained attention in the 90s, and continues to create and exhibit work today. 

Photograph by Ari Marcopoulos



Untitled, 1997




Untitled, 2001



Detail of¬†ÔĽŅThe Ecstasy of St. Kara: Kara Walker, New Work (exhibition), 2016



Brand X (Slave Market Painting), 2017



Detail of The Gross Clinician Presents: Pater Gravidam, 2018



Barack Obama as Othello "The Moor" With the Severed Head of Iago in a New and Revised Ending by Kara E. Walker,¬†ÔĽŅ2019



Mother and Daughter, 2020



Book of Hours (Self and other), 2021