Art: Portraits of Female Greats

Anita Kunz on painting extraordinary women.

anita kunz, original women
ANITA KUNZ

When COVID-19 forced artist Anita Kunz—the first woman to have a solo art show at the Library of Congress—into lockdown, she began searching for inspiration online and found it by reading about women. Kunz then wrote down their stories and painted them in Original Sisters, illuminating a host of courageous women that ranges from ancient history to the present day. Some figures, like Joan of Arc and Josephine Baker, are well-known; others—Sophie Scholl and Alice Ball, for example—are more obscure.

This article appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Alta Journal.
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It must have been challenging to limit your book to 154 women.
The publisher set the limit, but frankly, I’m hoping for a book two. I have continued to paint these extraordinary women, and I’m up to 265 now!

anita kunz
Anita Kunz made hundreds of paintings during the COVID-19 lockdown to create her book celebrating the lives of 154 women.
ANITA KUNZ

Give us an example of something especially interesting you discovered.
The father of modern conceptual art is considered to be Marcel Duchamp. I was intrigued by what seems to be evidence in one of his letters that a woman named Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was actually the creator of the porcelain sculpture Fountain, challenging the idea of who exactly started the genre.

What would you want readers to take away from Original Sisters?
That men don’t have the monopoly on great stories and accomplishments!•

Pantheon
ORIGINAL SISTERS: PORTRAITS OF TENACITY AND COURAGE, BY ANITA KUNZ
Pantheon Bookshop.org
$27.60
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