LONDON.- Judy Chicago is an artist, writer and activist whose work set the agenda for women's art over the past five decades. A pioneering force who came to prominence in the late 1960's and early 1970's, she helped re-shape the male-dominated art landscape by creating innovative work from a woman's perspective - reacting to social and political injustice during revolutionary times.
Her art and her ideas continue to exert a palpable influence on generations of women artists who came after. In 2011 her contribution was recognised and in some ways rediscovered during Pacific Standard Time, the California-wide celebration of the history of the L.A. Art Scene which saw sixty cultural institutions collaborate in one six-month long initiative (http://www.pacificstandardtime.org/) and featured work across various media by Judy Chicago. The artist is widely represented in museums and public collections worldwide.
November 2012 sees Chicago exhibiting in London for the first time since 1985. Riflemaker will show paintings and sculpture from as early as 1963, a decade before the artist co-founded the influential feminist art programmes at California State University, Fresno, and CalArts which led to Womanhouse, the world's first large-scale public feminist art installation.
The Riflemaker exhibition also includes a rarely seen test plate and runner drawing for The Dinner Party (1974-79), a symbolic history of women in western civilisation, which has now been seen by over one million visitors. The Dinner Party is on permanent display at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
Simultaneously, Judy Chicago’s first UK museum show opens to the public in London on 14th November at Ben Uri, The London Jewish Museum of Art. Surveying a range of themes from the feminist era onwards, it features more recent, intimate and autobiographical works on paper, including Autobiography of a Year (1993-94), a visual diary series of 140 drawings, along with Retrospective in a Box, a recently completed suite of prints surveying the artist’s career to date. A number of works will be on display to the public for the first time.
The exhibition will encompass a broad range of media, including photographs of Chicago’s early performances; drawing; printmaking; painting and needlework, which map the influence of this artist on today's generation, where close associations can be drawn. Contextual works by important contemporary women artists who explore areas of commonality: Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), Helen Chadwick (1956-1993) and Tracey Emin (born 1963) will form an integral part of this exhibition.
A definitive overview of the artist's career can be found in the newly launched book Judy Chicago which will be published by Lund Humphries in October.
This fully-illustrated monograph accompanies the exhibition of Chicago's work at Ben Uri and presents a unique perspective on the artist's work, highlighting selected themes from four decades, explored across a wide range of media. The book has been edited by Rachel Dickson the Head of Curatorial Services at Ben Uri, with contributions by Judy Batalion, Frances Borzello, Diane Gelon, Alexandra Kokoli and Andrew Perchuk.
In Liverpool: Voices from The Song of Songs, a series of six paired prints with accompanying documentation, will be exhibited in The Black-E Gallery. The series was based upon Marcia Falk’s translation of Biblical love songs and explores mutuality of desire and a shared enjoyment of sexual pleasure. In addition, an illustrated monograph will be launched, Women, Art, and Society: A Tribute to Virginia Woolf by Judy Chicago - originally delivered as a lecture in 1982 on the 100th Anniversary year of Virginia Woolf’s birth.
The artist recently gifted two Birth Project works to the Birth Rites Collection at the Midwifery school at Salford University, the only collection of contemporary artwork dedicated to the subject of childbirth. These needlework pieces are typical of Chicago’s decision to appropriate the ‘feminine arts’ – embroidery, needlework, quilting – and use them in an atypical way, or combine them with ‘masculine’ skills such as welding and woodwork. It is this combination of media and subject matter that gives Chicago a unique voice in the cannon of contemporary art.
Photo by Donald Woodman