Judy Chicago describes herself as an artist and a troublemaker. A practitioner of freedom and transcendence, her body of work is being honored at a new retrospective at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.
Chicago was taught to think different early in her life. Her father was a Marxist who held meetings at the family home when she was very young. This was the 1940s — the height of McCarthyism. Despite the propaganda spewed at the time, Chicago understood she wanted to be an artist and her father had a sincere will to contribute to the world — a lesson he passed on to her. Upon his passing when she was 13, she was faced with the troubling question: “To believe the world or my own experiences,” the artist and author noted in a 2017 interview with Tate.
Her hypnotic aesthetic arose from this ability to forge her own path. As a purveyor of large scale sculpture, paintings and various print studies, Chicago’s work essentially arose in attempts to understand herself. “I could not see anything in my head. I had to do everything on paper.” By reconstructing the way a circular form pulses and closes, opens and contracts, she intuitively was able to express the feelings she was struggling with at an early age around her “sexuality, place in the art world, about how to be a woman in that environment, how to be taken seriously, how to navigate the constraints of male minimalism to make a place for my interests as a woman.”
This was a precursor to her feminist art practice of the ’70s and onward — a largely overshadowed body of work which will be on display as Judy Chicago: A Retrospective, from August 28 to January 9 at San Franisco’s de Young Museum.
For more art news, check out Morag Myerscough’s brilliant new installation in Coventry, England.
de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA
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