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Outstanding women in the arts

Published 9:59 AM ET, Tue March 19, 2013
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March is Women's History Month, and CNN is highlighting women who've shined in their fields--historically and today. Earlier, we looked at standouts in science and technology. Here's a gallery of women who've stormed the world of fine arts. The stunningly beautiful and unconventional actress Katharine Hepburn, right, was also a talented artist who refused to be pushed around by Hollywood studios in the 1930s and '40s. Her 60-plus year career included 12 Oscar nominations and four wins. Today, Meryl Streep, left, has built the same kind of uncompromising career. Streep has been nominated for an Oscar 17 times, and won three. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/Hutton Archives/Getty Images
Anna Pavlova, right, mastered the art of classical ballet as a young and gifted Russian dancer. Her performances in "The Dying Swan" captivated the world. Diana Vishneva, left, is another Russian ballerina who stormed the world with her talent. A principal dancer for the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the American Ballet Theatre, she has also established the Diana Vishneva foundation to promote the art form. James Abbe/Getty Images/Berthold Stadler/AFP/Getty Images
Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, right, is thought by many to be the grand dame of modern women's fashion. Her relaxed designs helped liberate women from the structured corsets of the early 20th century and paved the way for modern female designers like Phoebe Philo, left, who helms Parisian design house Celine. Philo has been credited with "spearheading the charge toward a cleaner kind of chic," creating signature minimalist classics that Vogue's Sarah Mower summed up as "the work of a woman working for women." Archive Photos/Getty Images/ Francis Guillot/AFP/Getty Images
Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmüller, right, was the first woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for best director in 1976 with the film "Seven Beauties." The black comedy about an Italian petty thief who winds up imprisoned by the Nazis didn't take home any Oscars (she lost to "Rocky" director John G. Avildsen) but it solidified Wertmüller's reputation as an internationally acclaimed filmmaker. It would take more than 30 years for a female director to finally take home the Academy Award for best director. Kathryn Bigelow's 2008 "Hurt Locker" also mined the battlegrounds of war for its plot about an elite Army bomb squad, earning six Oscars. Caren Golden/Huytton Archives/Getty Images/Angela Weiss/Getty Images
Maud Powell, right, was America's first internationally recognized prodigy violinist. Celebrated as one of the best violinists in the world by 1904, she was chosen by the Victor Company to record. By 1917 she was playing Carnegie Hall. Today, violinist Sarah Chang, left, is also internationally recognized for her natural capability and artistry. She made her New York Philharmonic debut as an 8-year-old, was the youngest person to receive the Hollywood Bowl's Hall of Fame award and is one of the U.S. Embassy's Artistic Ambassadors. Hutton Archive/Getty Images/Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Playwright Lillian Hellman began her theatrical career in the 1930s as a reader in the Hollywood studio system. She went on to pen plays that featured themes of infidelity, aging and revenge, and won many accolades. Hellman's play "The Children's Hour" chronicled two teachers falsely labeled as lesbians, leading to tragic consequences. Modern playwright Sarah Ruhl, left, has likewise explored the idea of sexuality and misunderstanding. Her Tony Award winning play "In the Next Room" (or "The Vibrator Play") looks at two women in unsatisfactory marriages who seek sex therapy. Hutton Archives/Getty Images/Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Born in 1797 in London, Mary Shelley, right, became a writing prodigy and a bit of a sensation when she published the legendary horror novel "Frankenstein" in 1818 at the age of 21. Some speculated that Shelley's husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, actually wrote the novel. However, Mary Shelley went on to write several books after his death in 1822. Though less connected in the literary world and a struggling single mother when she parlayed her vivid imagination into success, Brit JK Rowling, left, also caused a stir with the publication of her first novel, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," in 1999. Rowling has gone on to write six more Harry Potter books as well as the adult-themed novel Casual Vacancy. Hutton Archive/Getty Images/Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
Louise Bourgeois, right, was a surrealist sculptor whose deeply personal and psychological works first caught critical attention in the 1940s. Her sculptures -- which have been shown in MOMA, The Tate Modern and the Guggenheim -- fearlessly explored sexuality and the trauma she experienced from her father's affair with her governess. Her most recognizable work, the 30-foot tall spider Maman, represents her mother. Similarly, sculptor Polly Morgan, left, exploits the emotions associated with animal shapes by using taxidermied creatures as art. She expresses her love of animals by setting her subjects in unnatural and unexpected poses. Chris Felver/Getty Images/Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
American photographer Diane Arbus, right, touched a nerve with her raw portraits of everyday life in New York in the 1950s and 1960s. Her subjects cut across a large swath of society -- children, couples, ladies who lunch, dwarves, transvestites, nudists -- displaying a gift for "rendering strange those things we consider most familiar, and uncovering the familiar within the exotic," often to disturbing effect. Decades later, fellow American photographer Sally Mann also drew attention for her intimate portraits of her young children and husband, in their most natural and vulnerable moments. Though considered pornographic by some, the images, along with others in Mann's body of work, underscored what has been described as her "commitment to following her personal, local interests, unafraid if she runs headlong into taboos." Roz Kelly/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images/Michael Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Georgia O'Keefe, right, is considered one of the most important and influential painters in American history. She rose to prominence in the early 20th century with still-lifes of bold flowers that were modern and erotic. Her landscape paintings, based on the skies and topography of New Mexico, are likewise instantly recognizable as O'Keefes, all of which display the inspiration she found in "the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it." Jenny Saville, left, also a modern painter, focuses on the architecture of the human body -- gender landscapes. A British artist known for painting nudes, she was particularly inspired by the obese women she saw in shopping malls while on a college scholarship in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her paintings are shown worldwide, and have sold at Christie's for nearly 1.5 million pounds. MPI/Getty Images/Nick Harvey/WireImage