Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction

The words 'The End' in bold, uppercase print is shown in an iridescent box of pinks and greens with a solid black border. 'A meditation' sits atop of the box in cursive writing and 'on Death and Extinction' sits below in the same lettering.
Sep 19, 2019, to Jan 20, 2020

Judy Chicago has built her career on pushing boundaries. Her latest body of work, a series titled The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, is no exception. In nearly 40 works of painted porcelain and glass, as well as two large bronze sculptures, Chicago tackles human mortality and species extinction.

NMWA is the first venue to showcase this new series, which is executed in the bold graphic style that has become the artist’s hallmark. Chicago’s stark images are a visceral antidote to a culture that prizes youth and beauty, and often ignores the suffering of other creatures. Divided into three sections, the series depicts the five stages of grief, personified; Chicago’s ruminations about her own demise; and a visual catalogue of species endangered by the action—and inaction—of humans.

Beginning with her renowned mixed-media installation of the 1970s, The Dinner Party, Chicago has used materials such as glass and porcelain, historically associated with women’s artistic endeavors, to challenge the gendered binary of high art versus decorative art and to expose these socially constructed differences. The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction continues this long-standing practice and advances Chicago’s commitment to questioning the status quo through her use of complex materials and subjects.

A painting of a seated, hairless woman with her head in her hands in despair.

Judy Chicago, Stages of Dying 5/6: Depression, from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2015; China paint on porcelain, 12 x 16 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

Exhibition Sponsors

Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The exhibition is made possible by the MaryRoss Taylor Exhibition Fund. Additional support is provided by the Sue J. Henry and Carter G. Phillips Exhibition Fund and the museum’s members.

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