Spanning from her early engagement with the Californian Light and Space Movement in the 1960s to her most current body of work—a searing investigation of mortality and environmental devastation—the exhibition will include about 150 paintings, drawings, ceramic sculptures, prints, and performance-based works that chart the boundary-pushing path of the artist. Judy Chicago: A Retrospective is presented in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote across the United States.
“Judy Chicago is an artist of exceptional foresight and consequence, who is long overdue for the deep look into her artistic output that this retrospective will provide,” states Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “I am proud to say that Judy Chicago: A Retrospective is one in a series of groundbreaking exhibitions at the de Young that pay homage to artists who have historically been undervalued based on their race or gender.”
One of the founding forces behind the 1970s feminist art movement, Chicago became widely known for The Dinner Party, a massive installation turning women’s traditional household-bound role on its head by setting a feast for 39 remarkable women—from Hildegarde of Bingen to Emily Dickinson—to shine a spotlight on women’s contributions to history. Under creation for more than five years, its realization relied on the contributions of dozens of volunteers. Concluded in 1979, it was presented in San Francisco to popular success and proceeded to be shown internationally to an audience of over one million viewers through an unprecedented grass roots effort. Art critics, however, responded differently, annihilating it for its celebration of vaginal imagery and embrace of “feminine” craft. For decades Chicago operated on the margins of the art world, her work shunned by most critics and institutions and her evolution as an artist eclipsed by the notoriety of The Dinner Party. Though that work has since received recognition as one of the iconic artworks of its time, Judy Chicago: A Retrospective is the first exhibition to offer a comprehensive overview of Chicago’s career.
“I am thrilled that, forty years after the premiere of The Dinner Party in San Francisco, the de Young museum is hosting my first retrospective,” says Judy Chicago. “It will be a real homecoming, as it is in California that I launched my long career.”
Judy Chicago: A Retrospective will trace the artist’s practice back to its roots, revealing her unique working process – sometimes alone, other times collaborating with her husband, colleagues, or a wider circle of volunteers, and the origins of the formal and conceptual strategies she has applied throughout her oeuvre. Bringing together a representative selection drawn from every major series of her work, it will also feature sketchbooks, journals, and preparatory drawings that document her extensive process of research and development.
Judy Chicago: A Retrospective
Exhibition Dates: May 9 – September 6, 2020
de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, California