With her works featured in three simultaneous exhibitions in New York right now, artist Judy Chicago is trying to move out from under the shadow of The Dinner Party.
Ms. Chicago is, of course, best known for that sensual installation, a massive feminist icon that has elicited as much admiration as criticism since its creation in the 1970s. One of the most famous censored artworks ever, it prompted the House of Representatives to penalize a museum $1.6 million for showing it in 1990. (The artwork, now in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum, sets a table for famous women throughout history, and the dinner plates feature vulva/butterfly images.) “Before I leave this earth, The Dinner Party will come to be a part of a larger body of work,” she said last week.
Her show, “Surveying Judy Chicago,” opened Thursday at ACA Galleries in Chelsea. Elsewhere, at Hebrew Union College Museum, Ms. Chicago’s The Birth Project is on view; at the Jewish Museum, she is included in “Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism.” She is also in the midst of promoting her 12th book, Frida Kahlo: Face to Face, a look at Kahlo’s art and place in the history of self-portraiture.
At ACA, the show is meant to illuminate the variety of Ms. Chicago’s work, tracing her shifts in media. The Portland (Ore.) Museum of Art has bought a piece, and a $250,000 trio of works in her Pasadena Lifesavers series, one of which is shown here, are on reserve, said dealer, Dorian Bergen.
The number of women artists in museums, though steadily increasing, is still too low for Ms. Chicago’s taste. “We have a long way to go,” she said.
“If you look at what controls history, like the permanent collections of museums, it’s still 3 to 5 percent women,” she said.