Judy Chicago’s (b. 1939) Dinner Party (1973-79) is certainly the most iconic feminist artwork of the decade, but the artist’s accomplishments are much broader than a single artwork can suggest. Having begun her career as a painter and sculptor in the late modernist vein, she radically varied the course of her career in the early 1970s by adopting an overtly feminist, and often sexual, iconography for her own work. In partnership with Miriam Shapiro she established the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts, which opened in 1972. It was meant to serve as a place for young female artists to discover a new way of making art, removed from the entrenched male-centrism that she asserted occupied most art schools. A notable result of this program’s establishment was the organization of Womanhouse, a collaborative space occupied by female artists working in various media. The Feminist Studio Workshop, which she founded with Sheila de Bretteville and Arlene Raven and which was not affiliated with CalArts, opened in 1973.
In parallel with her artistic and pedagogical endeavors, Chicago published Through the Flower, a work that has become a touchstone for feminist autobiographical writing of the 1970s. Beyond the Flower is a sequel of sorts, describing her post-1970s life and the evolution of both her career and her views on the place of women in society.
Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party (1979), installation view. Copyright Judy Chicago, 1979. Mixed media, 48' x 42' x 3'. Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation. Collection: The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY. Photo: copyright Donald Woodman.
Chicago, Judy. Beyond the Flower: The Autobiography of a Feminist Artist. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Viking, 1996.
———. Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist. 1st ed. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1975.
Levin, Gail. Becoming Judy Chicago: A Biography of the Artist [1st Ed.]. New York: Harmony Books, 2007.
Lippard, Lucy R., Edward Lucie-Smith, Viki D. Thompson, Elizabeth A. Sackler, and National Museum of Women in the Arts. Judy Chicago. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2002.