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The story of art has always excluded women. But we can write a new, more equitable story for the future of art, and beyond.

Instant New York Times Bestselling Author of The Story of Art Without Men | 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 Europe | Guardian Columnist | Art Historian and Curator

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Bringing Attention to Overlooked Women in ‘The Story of Art Without Men’ (6:41)

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Why Are Women Erased From Art History? (3:00)

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Katy Hessel: The Waterstones Book of the Year Interview (8:21)

Lavin Exclusive Speaker

When bestselling author Katy Hessel noticed the underrepresentation of women in art galleries, she knew things had to change. “Society has always prioritized one group in art history,” says Katy. “It is vital for this to be addressed and challenged.” Dedicating her career to giving a voice to the forgotten female artists of the past, she wrote The Story of Art Without Men, the instant New York Times bestseller called “an extraordinary achievement that will help determine the landscape for years to come” (Harper’s Bazaar). In her inspiring talks, she argues “we have a duty to all these people who came before us whose stories were overlooked.” Rather than forefronting the contributions of a single group, as we’ve done in the past, she challenges us to build a more inclusive future for art—and every other field.

“If you haven’t encountered Katy Hessel, the feminist dynamo who’s on a mission to grant female artists their rightful place in history, now’s your moment.” —The LA Times

Katy Hessel is a formidable figure in the art world whose achievements have landed her on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list. Known for her passion for championing women artists and marginalized communities both from the past and the present.  In 2015, she founded her Instagram page “The Great Women Artists,” a platform dedicated to showcasing and celebrating women artists throughout history. This was her first step in reshaping the art narrative, and she has been an unstoppable force since. In her podcast of the same name and dynamic talks, Katy connects art with broader, timely cultural conversations, candidly delving into the intersectionality of gender, race, and identity. Through her work, Katy sheds light on the experiences of artists who have historically been overlooked. She invites audiences to explore art through a different lens, revealing narratives that resonate deeply with diverse communities. 

Her book, The Story of Art Without Men, has taken the world by storm. An instant New York Times bestseller and winner of the Waterstone Book of the Year award, it earned widespread acclaim and recognition. The title of her book plays on the name of Gombrich’s The Story of Art, the iconic “introductory Bible to art history,” which didn’t mention a single woman until its 16th edition. “If he was going to leave out women, I was going to leave out men,” she decided. The first of its kind, the book focuses on the often-neglected contributions of women artists throughout history, offering a more comprehensive and inclusive perspective on art. In this Kirkus Best Nonfiction Book, she delves into the works of renowned women artists from all over the world, highlighting their achievements and impact on the art world, while also shedding light on the broader experience of marginalized communities. Through meticulous research and captivating storytelling, Katy unveils a rich tapestry of art history that challenges traditional narratives and expands our understanding of artistic brilliance. “The Story of Art Without Men should be on the reading list of every A-level and university art history course and on the front table of every museum and gallery shop” (The Times). 

Katy writes and presents arts documentaries for the BBC, such as Artemisia Gentileschi (2020) and Art on the BBC: Monet (2022). In 2021, she was selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list, in 2022, she was appointed as the Curatorial Trustee of Charleston, and in 2023, she became a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge. She writes extensively on the subject of women artists and frequently lectures at institutions such as The National Gallery, Courtauld, Tate, and Cambridge University. She maintains her fortnightly column for The Guardian, “The Great Women’s Art Bulletin.” In her podcast, The Great Women Artists Podcast, she has interviewed groundbreaking artists such as Marina Abramović and Lubaina Himid, and writers Ali Smith and Deborah Levy. She also hosts Dior’s podcast, Dior Talks – Feminist Art, which includes interviews with Tracey Emin and Judy Chicago. 

Speech Topics

The Arts
The Great Women ArtistsWriting a New Story for the Future of Art—and Beyond

Katy Hessel, author of The Story of Art Without Men, was a fresh Art History graduate when she realized the overwhelming under-representation of women artists. “They weren’t in galleries, they weren’t in museums, they weren’t in contemporary shows, and they weren’t to be found in art history,” says Katy. Since that day, she’s dedicated her career to giving a voice to these artists and inspiring others to seek true equity. 

In this exciting and accessible talk, Katy brings to light the forgotten women in art, the significance of their work and life, and their connection to the present—and our future. For example, she discusses the incredible life of Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi, whose art career was marked by her bold declaration: “I’ll show you what a woman can do.” Despite achieving “meteoric recognition” in her lifetime and being a strong supporter of equal pay, she was excluded from the art canon.

Through the stories of these inspirational women, Katy addresses critical questions around diversity and inclusion. She leaves audiences with a greater understanding of women’s lives and challenges—and most importantly, their achievements despite it all. She shares how we can uplift the voices of marginalized people today, and create a more inclusive, diverse art world.  

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