Ghada Amer (b. 1963, Cairo) is best known for her subversive embroidered paintings that appropriate imagery from pornographic magazines as a means of creating an entirely feminine and feminist language of painting. She studied at the Villa Arson in Nice, where she was told that certain painting classes were reserved exclusively for male students. This served as the pivotal moment for Amer’s practice, at which point she began to create her own unique space within the medium of painting. Her consistent use of embroidery in her paintings, a skill traditionally associated with femininity or “women’s work,” in conjunction with the erotic imagery of women in positions of sexual pleasure realigns our notions of objectification. Historically the female nude as rendered by the male artist reduced the painting’s subject to mere physical body deprived of agency. The embroidery imbues each image with a tenderness that bypasses this reduction. She at once rejects oppressive laws set in place to govern women’s attitudes toward their bodies and repudiates first-wave feminist theory that the body must be denied to prevent victimization. The women in Amer’s paintings are neither objects nor victims, but rather autonomous subjects with inalienable identities.


Amer has participated in preeminent exhibitions at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennale, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, and more. Her works have been acquired by collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museo Jumex in Mexico City, the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and the Leeum, Samsung Museum in Seoul, among others. In 2022, Ghada Amer: A Woman’s Voice is Revolution was organized by the Mucem (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations) in partnership with the Museums of Marseille-Centre de la Vieille Charité and the Frac Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in France, marking the first major career retrospective of Ghada Amer in France.