Just less than twenty years after Gerhard Richter did his portrait series of famous men, Helnwein created forty-eight portraits of women, the photographic versions of which are seen here. Prompted by the public protest of feminist Alice Schwarzer against Richter's exclusively male cast of celebrities, Helnwein conceived his female series as a counterpart and alternative artistic statement.
Unlike Richter, whose selection was based primarily on the formal criteria of head position or direction of gaze, Helnwein oriented himself more towards personalities and moreover provided a brief documentation. His panorama brought together historical and contemporary personalities who contributed to cultural and scientific life in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including such fields as popular music, comics, and children's literature. In addition to female authors, poets, artists, actresses, politicians, and physicists, Helnwein depicted pop star Tina Turner, the German translator of Mickey Mouse, Erika Fuchs, and the children's book author Astrid Lindgren. As a supplement to Richter's portraits of Einstein, the artist included a portrait of Mileva Einstein, the physicist's first wife.