Judy Chicago: Art for a Woman’s World

  • Born in Chicago*, the multifaceted artist and celebrated American personality has never stopped developing a singular, female-centered aesthetic challenging male domination and celebrating the achievements of women, who are all too often overlooked or relegated to the sidelines. In contrast with the clean, angular lines favored by her contemporaries, she prefers generous, sensual, colorful and suggestive curves, with spirals and shells evoking symbols of female power.

In the late 1970s, she boldly and poetically asserted her art with The Dinner Party, a monumental installation comprised of thirty-nine place settings arranged on an open, triangular table that rests on a porcelain-tiled floor inscribed with the names of 999 other mythical female personalities. After touring the world, this iconic work, a symbolic history of women in Western civilization, is now a part of the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

In her extensive research for The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago discovered the fundamental role of goddesses in antiquity and in different cultures around the world. Restoring women’s divine dimension and illuminating a whole buried section of history by the glow of these inspiring and creative figures are the passionate vocations that have been her guiding inspiration on a wide range of subjects, including embroidery, spanning a career of nearly 60 years. Today, Judy Chicago brings her deep knowledge of women’s history as well as her familiarity with needle and textile techniques to her collaboration with Maria Grazia Chiuri. 

In addition to creating a prodigious body of art, Judy Chicago has lectured widely across the globe, published 14 books and co-founded the Feminist Art Program at the California State University in Fresno, in 1970. This unprecedented initiative was soon followed by Womanhouse, a project that came out of the famed art school, Cal Arts, which was co-directed by the painter Miriam Schapiro and produced by a group of female students and artists who were encouraged to push the boundaries of convention and social diktats. 

A true pioneer, Judy Chicago defines art as the highest expression of the human spirit, one which was denied to women for many centuries. 

* Née Judy Cohen, she adopted the name of her hometown as her surname.

Photo credit - Sarah Blais & Kristen Pelou