Judy Chicago’s Finger Painting, 1943
Collection: Elizabeth A. Sackler
1945 – Started attending art classes at the Chicago Art Institute
Judy Chicago, 1957
Judy Chicago when she left Chicago for Los Angeles in order to attend UCLA where she majored in art and minored in humanities, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1962
Small Early Painting, © Judy Chicago, ca. 1962
Acrylic on canvas, 18.5" x 20",
Photo © Donald Woodman
Judy Chicago’s early, abstract work was little known until Pacific Standard Time, the 2011/12 Getty initiative involving institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego documenting and celebrating southern California art from 1945-1980.
Received MA from UCLA in painting and sculpture.
Rainbow Pickett, 1965/2004 (left); Minimalist Future at
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2004 (right).
First solo show at Rolf Nelson Gallery, Los Angeles.
Subsequently shown in the first major Minimalist show at the Jewish Museum, curated by Kynaston McShine. Chicago was one of only four women in the exhibition. In 2004, Rainbow Pickett (which was destroyed by the artist) was re-constructed for LAMOCA’s minimalist show, “A Minimalist Future” and became a promised gift to LAMOCA in 2008.
The Cunt Cheerleaders, 1970-71, students of the Feminist art
program (left); Boxing Ring Ad, Announcement in Artforum for Jack
Glenn Gallery, 1971. Photo by Jerry McMillan (right).
Set out to construct a Feminist art practice and pioneered first Feminist art program at California State University, Fresno, a year long program from Fall 1970 to Spring 1971.
Legally changed name to Judy Chicago in an effort to liberate herself from male-dominated stereotypes.
Name Change Ad, Artforum, Oct., 1970
Quote from Judy Chicago’s Journal dated March 8, 1971: “I am beginning this journal now, because the work with which I am involved has developed faster than I had ever imagined...and before the moment is gone and forgotten, I want to (document)...the growth of the first Feminist art ever attempted.”
Linen Closet by Sandy Orgel, a student of Feminist Art Project,
1972 (left), Menstruation Bathroom by Judy Chicago, 1972 (right)
Womanhouse, created in Los Angeles by Chicago and Schapiro with the students of the Feminist Art Program, the first female-centered art installation. The exhibition was an instant sensation and its reverberations continue today.
Opening of the Woman’s Building - founded by Chicago with the late art historian Arlene Raven and designer, Sheila de Bretteville (now the dean of Design at Yale University) - based upon the 1893 building of the same name at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Like its predecessor, it was run by a Board of Lady Managers. The building housed a number of feminist organizations, businesses and art galleries including the Feminist Studio Workshop (established by Chicago, Raven and de Bretteville), the first independent feminist art school. Over the twenty years of its existence, the Woman’s Building produced many important women artists.
Judy Chicago at work on The Dinner Party alone
in her china painting studio.
Chicago began work on what would become her best known work, The Dinner Party, a monumental tribute to women’s achievements that would occupy her for over five years.
(from top left) Through the Flower First edition, 1975,
Through the Flower, Japanese, 1979, Through the
Flower 1982, Through the Flower, UK, 1982; (from
bottom left) Through the Flower, German, 1984,
Through the Flower, 1993, Through the Flower,
Chinese, 1997, Through the Flower 2006
1975 – Publication of Chicago’s first book, Through the Flower, which chronicled her struggles to find her own identity as a woman artist, with an Introduction by Anais Nin. Subsequently published in Japan, England, Germany, and China, thereby bringing Chicago’s art and ideas to an international audience.
Through the Flower offices and exhibition
space in Benicia, CA, 1983.
Through the Flower, a 501-c3 non-profit corporation was chartered to help facilitate the completion of The Dinner Party.
(Top) Overview, (from bottom left) Long line
to view The Dinner Party at San Francisco
Museum of Art, 1979, Search for permanent
housing poster, 1979.
Premiere of The Dinner Party at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art where it was seen by 100,000 people and written about in almost every major mainstream publication including such national magazines as Newsweek, Life and People. Despite this major success, the scheduled exhibition tour of The Dinner Party collapsed and Through the Flower took on the organization of the tour, which was propelled by grass-roots groups that organized around the U.S., Canada, then Europe and Australia. Eventually, over one million people viewed the exhibit. At this same time, Chicago set a goal for permanently housing The Dinner Party.
(from top left) Birth Tear/Tear, executed by Jane Thompson,
Judy Chicago working with L.A. Hassing, (from bottom left)
Judy Chicago working with Gerry Melot, Judy Chicago
working with Pamella Nesbit. Photos by Michele Maier.
Birth Project: Fueled by the intense interest in her work that was produced by the publication of her autobiography and then, the exhibition of The Dinner Party, Chicago received hundreds of requests from people interested in working with her. From this pool, the 150 Birth Project needleworkers were selected. This project was sponsored and later, toured by Through the Flower to over 100 venues to a viewing audience of more than 250,000 people. A continuing project of Through the Flower, Birth Project art has been and is being gifted to museums, university galleries, birthing centers and hospitals as part of Through the Flower’s mission of introducing Feminist art into the culture.
(from top left) Powerheadache, 1986;
Woeman, Cast Bronze, 1986;
Driving the World to Destruction, 1988.
Powerplay, an examination of the construct of masculinity in drawings, paintings, sculptures, weavings, cast paper and bronze.
Publication of Birth Project book simultaneous with exhibitions around the country.
Judy Chicago & Donald Woodman dancing at wedding (left);
“Renewal Ketubah” (right)
Marriage to photographer Donald Woodman. In 2010, Chicago and Woodman celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. To commemorate this happy occasion, Chicago created a “Renewal Ketubah” (Jewish wedding certificate) based on their original ketubah.
Workshop at College of Santa Fe, NM.
Through the Flower moved to New Mexico and began presenting public seminars and art workshops.
(from top left) Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman
working on Four Questions; Judy Chicago in Prague
cemetery during reseach trip; (bottom) Rainbow
1985-1993 - Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light, an eight-year collaborative project created by Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman along with selected artisans, is a journey into the darkness of the Holocaust which resulted in an exhibition that combined painting and photography to explore the meaning of the Holocaust in a contemporary context. It is introduced by a monumental tapestry suggesting that the Holocaust grew out of the ‘fabric’ of Western Civilization and concludes with a large stained glass installation, Rainbow Shabbat: A Vision for the Future.
1993 - Publication of Holocaust Project book.
1993-2000 - Exhibition tours of Holocaust Project with continuing exhibitions of selections from the Holocaust Project, toured by Through the Flower.
Chicago and Woodman moved into the Belen Hotel, Belen, NM, an historic railroad hotel on the National Register of Historic Places, after a three-year renovation/restoration by Woodman. This is the first home of their own either of them has ever had.
(from left) Installation view at American Craft
Museum; Logo Sampler; Find It In Your Heart,
Home Sweet Home.
Resolutions: A Stitch in Time: Working with a select group of needleworkers, Chicago set out to create a series of painted and needleworked images re-interpreting traditional proverbs for a multi-cultural future. Described by renowned British art writer Edward Lucie-Smith in his 1999 monograph, Judy Chicago: An American Vision, as a “post-modern project that subverts the traditions of both needlework and proverbs.” This exhibition was curated by David Revere McFadden, senior curator at the Museum of Art and Design in NY, where it premiered in 2000, subsequently traveling to museums in the U.S. and Canada.
(from left to right) At Home, revisiting the subject of the home with
both male and female participants; Catalog cover, Trial and Tributes;
Installation view, Overview exhibition, National Museum of Women in
the Arts, 2002.
Chicago returned to teaching, doing semester long project classes (culminating in exhibitions) at institutions around the country, including: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN; Duke University, Durham, NC; Western Kentucky UniversityBowling Green, KY; Cal-Poly, Pomona, CA; and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Several films were made about her unique teaching methods which had their roots in the Feminist art programs of the 1970’s. In 2001, she began team-teaching with Donald Woodman, which allowed her to extend her feminist-based pedagogy to include men.
- Quotes from participants of Evoke, Invoke, Provoke Project at Vanderbilt University
Michelle Davis: “It has been my desire since the day you left Nashville to tell you how much your program...has meant to me...I feel that I walked away with so much more than I came with because of you.”
Clay Caroll: ”Your knowledge and guidance really allowed me to develop my thoughts on art and push my artmaking to a new level. For this I will always be thankful.”
-“Trials and Tributes”: A Works on Paper retrospective surveying Chicago’s prodigious production on paper was organized by Dr. Viki Thompson Wylder, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL with an accompanying catalog. It toured to nine venues around the U.S. culminating in an expanded exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art in 2001 and then, in 2002, an overview exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC with a catalog edited by Dr. Elizabeth A. Sackler.
The Dinner Party on its way to the Brooklyn Museum
The Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation acquired and gifted The Dinner Party to the Brooklyn Museum with the intention of permanently housing it in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the first such institution in the world. At this same time the Brooklyn Museum exhibited The Dinner Party for a second time (a prior exhibition was held in 1980) but this time, the critical climate had dramatically changed. Instead of the hostile and vitriolic reception originally accorded The Dinner Party by the mainstream critics, it was hailed by Roberta Smith in the New York Times who described the piece as “...almost as much a part of American culture as Norman Rockwell, Walt Disney, the WPA murals and the AIDS quilts.” and “...as getting better all the time.
Through the Flower office, Belen, NM; Book cover, Kitty City
2003-2005 - With the impending permanent housing of The Dinner Party, Through the Flower began strategic planning for its future as an in-perpetuity art archive and studio/home museum to make Judy Chicago’s legacy as an artist, author and educator available to future generations.
2005 - Through the Flower bought a small building in Belen across the street from the Belen Hotel and began a series of Art Conversations to bring art discourse to their small, semi-rural community. Through the Flower also initiated the New Mexico Women’s Cultural Corridor, highlighting sites throughout the state devoted to women’s achievements.
Chicago premieres KittyCity: A Feline Book of Hours, a series of watercolors that were also collected in a lavishly illustrated book based upon a traditional Book of Hours but in this instance, chronicling a day in the life of the Chicago/Woodman’s household, which is home to six cats. In conjunction with the publication of the book and exhibitions around the country, Chicago worked with animal rescue agencies around the country to do cat adoptions.
(from left) Judy Chicago spraying Grand Toby Head
with Copper Eye; Chicago in Glass neon sign; Judy
Chicago painting glass, 2006.
The Dinner Party is featured in Janson and Janson’s A Basic History of Western Art in a full page feature that concludes: “This exquisite setting for a spiritual last supper...stands as a powerful icon for women’s liberation and independence. Additionally, its gender politics, commentary on contemporary society, and use of so many different styles and periods announces the art of the 1980’s, an art that still prevails today and has come to be called Post-Modernism.”
Chicago in Glass opens at LewAllen Contemporary in Santa Fe, a survey of Chicago’s recent work in glass including stained glass, fused, cast, etched and painted glass in both two and three-dimensions, Chicago explores another new media, again transforming a challenging technique into a vehicle for personal expression. She continues to work in glass, particularily cast and kiln fired glass painting.
The Dinner Party, Becoming Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party
installation view at Brooklyn Museum
Through the Flower made available a Dinner Party curriculum aimed at K-12 school teachers, created by Chicago in collaboration with Through the Flower board member, Dr. Constance Gee, a well-known art educator, who brought together a select group of curriculum writers. A summer workshop program to train art teachers in The Dinner Party curriculum is offered at Kutztown University. Please visit the website for The Dinner Party Curriculum Project for more information: http://judychicago.arted.psu.edu.
Top: The Creation tapestry detail
Bottom: Big Blue Pink from
Flesh Gardens by Judy Chicago
2011 - In early 2011, the Museum of Art and Design in New York presented the first survey of Judy Chicago’s work in tapestry which dates back to the mid 1970’s. This body of art - woven by Chicago’s long-time collaborator, Audrey Cowan - will be gifted to the museum by Audrey and her husband Bob. This gift will compliment the permanent installation of The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum and Chicago’s archives at the Schlesinger Library for the History of Women in America at Radcliffe/Harvard, providing viewers and scholars increased access to Chicago’s work. Penn State University acquired Judy Chicago’s extensive art education archive which is now available to students and scholars at http://judychicago.arted.psu.edu
2011/2012 - Judy Chicago was actively involved in Pacific Standard Time, a Getty funded initiative involving almost every institution from Santa Barbara to San Diego, documenting and celebrating Southern California art from 1945-1980, more than 20 of which years, Chicago was working in Los Angeles. Chicago’s work was exhibited in eight museum shows (including the Getty, LAMOCA, Otis Art Institute, the Pomona College Art Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art). In January, 2012, she restaged several historic events, including her (Dry Ice) “Disappearing Environment” (originally enacted by Chicago, Eric Orr and Lloyd Hamrol) and she did the first fireworks piece (titled “Atmospheres”) since 1974, continuing her exploration of the fireworks she first started using in the late 1960’s.
A very busy year for Judy Chicago with exhibitions around the country along with shows in Berlin and London.