Great art is like a woman: she ages beautifully and gracefully and is breathtaking to look at.
Women, however, do not make great art. Rather, they were not always perceived as being able to. Women were always overlooked and told that they could not be artists, similar to being told once upon a time that they cannot be writers or actors or doctors or lawyers, for women simply could not do it as well as a man.
It takes a bold and courageous woman to break the mold, stomp her foot down and say, “I’m not going anywhere. Deal with it.”
This, in terms of the art world of the ’50s and ’60s, was, thankfully, Judy Chicago. In a Q&A with the Museum of Contemporary Art held at the Standard Club on April 30th, Judy detailed the immense struggle she was faced with in terms of carving out a name for herself in the Los Angeles art world. As pictures of her installations, paintings, photographs, and drawings were projected onto screens, Judy discussed how the art world has always been a men’s game. Now, it might be different, but for centuries, it was thought that women simply could not participate and find success.
As the first wave of feminism began to permeate the zeitgeist, she leads the charge as a woman who was unafraid to make her mark and create iconic feminist imagery that shocked many then and still to this day. At one point in her career, despite having a successful installation called “The Dinner Party”, which showcased the best parts of women throughout history served up on dinner plates, Judy found herself like the “broke artist stereotype.”
But through that, she found that she could continue to create work that thrilled her and spanned mediums within one piece. Judy wanted to explore gender and fluidity in her work and answer the question, “Why does art always think that women don’t have a history?”
It also allowed her to create her non-profit organization Through the Flower. The organization’s mission is to “to ensure that women’s achievements are recognized and incorporated into our cultural heritage.” It’s what allowed her to continue creating work through private donations. If that’s not taking your career in your own hands, I don’t know what is!
Judy Chicago’s work marks her as a true visionary in the art world and proves why she was a fantastic follow up to last year’s inaugural honoree, famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. Hosted by the Women’s Board to raise money for the teenage, youth, and family programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the luncheon is meant to showcase women who have shattered the mold, cultivated careers of longevity, and created work that has stood the test of time. It’s clear that a career spanning close to 70 years has cemented Judy Chicago as a feminist art visionary who will continue to inspire others.
As she said, “You never know what’s going to happen if you live long enough.”