Judy Chicago: Circa ’75

Mixed media work on paper shows a large ink drawing of a sculptural plate with page-like leaves unfurling in a round, flower-like pattern. Smaller plate deisgns, collaged photographs of the author, and her written words are surrounded by pink, orange, yellow and green watercolor.
Jan 17 to Apr 13, 2014

Born Judy Cohen in Chicago in 1939, the pioneering feminist artist jettisoned her birth and married surnames in 1970, legally adopting the neutral “Chicago.” This act of independence ushered in a decade of artistic innovation and exploration.

In honor of Judy Chicago’s 75th birthday, this exhibition examines 13 of her artworks that paralleled and influenced the U.S. feminist movement of the 1970s. During this decade, Chicago developed vivid, abstract “central core” imagery—constructing pictorial space from the center of the composition—seeking to create a new abstract visual vocabulary that encapsulated a woman’s point of view.

Along with this new imagery, Chicago wanted to reclaim forgotten women from the annals of history, literally making them visible through art. She created a series of artworks recognizing “Great Ladies” of the past, which culminated in the iconic installation The Dinner Party, now housed permanently at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

“Great Ladies” works on view in Judy Chicago: Circa ’75 include preparatory drawings (Emily Dickinson and Virginia Woolf) and a test plate (Virginia Woolf) made for The Dinner Party. Given Chicago’s commitment to honoring women of the past, it is fitting that she be fêted alongside the other Great Ladies she has honored during her career.

Four hard-edged octagons, each divided into eight pie-slice shapes painted red, pink, orange, yellow, olive green, blue, violet, or lavender, occupy a square, white background. Dark at the wide and narrow ends of each wedge, the hues create the illusion of 3-dimensional forms.

Judy Chicago, Pasadena Lifesavers Red #5, 1970; Sprayed acrylic lacquer on acrylic, 60 x 60 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Elyse and Stanley Grinstein; © 1970 Judy Chicago

Exhibition Sponsors

Judy Chicago: Circa ’75 is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is generously supported by MaryRoss Taylor and the members of NMWA.