Judy Chicago: Herstory

Judy Chicago: Herstory
Judy Chicago, Gunsmoke, 1971. Offset photolithograph on paper, 17 1/2 x 21 1/2 in (44.5 x 54.6 cm).

Judy Chicago: Herstory
October 12, 2023 – January 14, 2024
New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

The New Museum presents “Judy Chicago: Herstory,” bringing together six decades of the artist’s work and including an exhibition-within-the-exhibition spotlighting women essential to the history of art and Chicago’s own practice. On view from October 12, 2023, through January 14, 2024, Chicago’s most comprehensive New York museum survey to date spans three floors of the New Museum, tracing the artist’s sixty-year career across painting, sculpture, installation, drawing, textiles, photography, stained glass, needlework, and printmaking.

Judy Chicago: Herstory
Judy Chicago, 2023
by Donald Woodman

On the Museum’s Fourth Floor, a total installation featuring Chicago’s embroideries, sculptures, drawings, and carpet design contextualizes her practice by bringing together artworks and archival materials from more than eighty women artists, writers, and cultural figures, including Hilma af Klint, Hildegard of Bingen, Claude Cahun, Elizabeth Catlett, Simone de Beauvoir, Artemisia Gentileschi, Emma Goldman, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charlotte Salomon, Remedios Varo, and Virginia Woolf, among others. Titled after fifteenth century author Christine de Pisan’s “Le Livre de la Cité des Dames,” “The City of Ladies” continues Chicago’s work as a feminist activist and cultural historian claiming space for women in narratives that previously obscured or denied their contributions—much like her seminal work The Dinner Party (1974–79) in its attempt to create a history of important and often overlooked women.

Judy Chicago: Herstory
Judy Chicago, Virginia Woolf, from The Reincarnation Triptych, 1973. Sprayed acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 in (152.4 x 152.4 cm). © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Collection Kirsten Grimstad and Diana Gould

“Judy Chicago: Herstory” will encompass the entirety of Chicago’s practice, from her 1960s experiments in Minimalism and her revolutionary feminist art of the 1970s to her series of the 1980s and 1990s—such as the Birth Project (1980–85), PowerPlay (1982–87), Holocaust Project (1985–93), Resolutions: A Stitch in Time (1994–2000), and The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction (2012-1018)—which expand the purview of her Second Wave Feminist agenda to confront environmental disaster, genocide, social inequity, birth and creation, mortality, and the construct of masculinity. The exhibition includes legendary works such as Rainbow Pickett (1965), originally presented in “Primary Structures” at the Jewish Museum, an exhibition which consecrated the minimalist turn in contemporary sculpture; Atmospheres, her radical performances initiated in 1969 employing colored smoke and fireworks to activate rather than scar the landscape; a suite of visionary abstractions from the 1970s—such as Through The Flower (1973) and the Great Ladies series (1973)—exemplifying Chicago’s iconography rooted in feminist theory; the Birth Project, a cycle of dozens of works begun in 1980 combining needlework, embroidery, and painting to celebrate the birth process; and documentation of “Womanhouse,” the fabled 1972 installation staged in an abandoned Hollywood mansion by Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s Feminist Art Program. These historic works are joined by recent series including The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction (2012–18), exploring death as it affects both individuals and the planet, and The Female Divine (2022), a series of eleven monumental banners designed by Chicago and produced by the nonprofit Chanakya School of Craft in Mumbai posing questions such as “What if Women Ruled the World?” Tracing her prolific practice across many decades and intersecting art movements, “Herstory” demonstrates the vast range and impact of Judy Chicago’s work over more than half a century.

Judy Chicago: Herstory
Judy Chicago, Through the Flower 2, 1973. Sprayed acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 in
(152.4 x 152.4 cm). Collection Diane Gelon. © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Donald Woodman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The exhibition will also explore Chicago’s manifold contributions as a feminist activist and cultural historian, presenting her work in dialogue with other women artists, writers, and thinkers whose memory she has helped keep alive through her tireless activities as both researcher and historical preservationist. Combining artworks and source materials in a distinctive exploration of artistic influences and reverberations across history, this exhibition proposes a new, radical model for a solo exhibition—an “introspective,” rather than a retrospective. In this collaborative curatorial approach, the artist is invited to conceive a personal museum based on a model of historiography that is porous, hospitable, and accepting.

Judy Chicago: Herstory
Judy Chicago, What if Women Ruled the World? From “The Female Divine,” 2020. Embroidery and brocade on velvet-backed fabric, 204 x 144 x 1/2 in
(518.16 x 365.76 x 1.27 cm).
© Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS).
Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation

The City of Ladies” includes work and archival materials from Hilma af Klint, Eileen Agar, Anni Albers, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Anna Atkins, Alice Austen, Djuna Barnes, Simone de Beauvoir, Otti Berger, Annie Besant, Hildegard of Bingen, Rosa Bonheur, Marianne Brandt, Claude Cahun, Julia Margaret Cameron, Leonora Carrington, Countess Virginia Oldoini Verasis di Castiglione, Elizabeth Catlett, Pop Chalee, Elizabeth S. Clarke, Ithell Colquhoun, Imogen Cunningham, Sonia Delaunay, Maya Deren, Emily Dickinson, Sophie Drinker, Suzanne Duchamp, Leonor Fini, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, Artemisia Gentileschi, Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein), Emma Goldman, Natalia Goncharova, Martha Graham, Alice Guy-Blaché, Florence Henri, Barbara Hepworth, Hannah Höch, Kati Horna, Georgiana Houghton, Zora Neale Hurston, Frida Kahlo, Gertrude Käsebier, Käthe Kollwitz, Emma Kunz, Dorothea Lange, Edmonia Lewis, Mina Loy, Dora Maar, Jeanne Mammen, Maria Martinez, Maria Martins, Mary Louise McLaughlin, Maria Sibylla Merian, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Louise Nevelson, Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, Anaïs Nin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Méret Oppenheim, Agnes Pelton, Mary Richardson, Margaret Sanger, Augusta Savage, Ethel Smyth, Gertrude Stein, Varvara Stepanova, Florine Stettheimer, Dorothea Tanning, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Toyen, Remedios Varo, Pablita Velarde, Beatrice Wood, Virginia Woolf, and Unica Zürn, as well as a number of unattributed works.

Judy Chicago: Herstory
Judy Chicago boxing ring ad, 1970. December 1970 issue of Artforum.
Courtesy Through the Flower Archives

Contextualizing Chicago’s feminist methodology within the many art movements in which she participated—and from whose histories she has frequently been erased—“Herstory” showcases Chicago’s tremendous impact on American art and highlights her critical role as a cultural historian claiming space for women often omitted from various canons. Part-expanded self-portrait and part-historical, revisionist archive, “Herstory” will be both a solo exhibition and a polyphonic survey of the feminist arts over multiple centuries.

“Judy Chicago: Herstory” is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Senior Curator, Margot Norton, former Allen and Lola Goldring Senior Curator at the New Museum and current Chief Curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Madeline Weisburg, Assistant Curator. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-published by Phaidon and the New Museum, featuring texts by Glenn Adamson, Connie Butler, Gary Carrion-Murayari, Ann Goldstein, Jennifer Higgie, Candice Hopkins, Amelia Jones, Quinn Latimer, Margot Norton, Kymberly Pinder, Ian Wallace, Madeline Weisburg, and Carmen Winant; and an interview between the artist and Massimiliano Gioni.

Judy Chicago, Birth Trinity: Needlepoint 1, from the Birth Project, 1983. Needlepoint on mesh canvas, 51 x 130 in (129.5 x 330.2 cm). Needlepoint by Susan Bloomenstein, Elizabeth Colten, Karen Fogel, Helene Hirmes, Bernice Levitt, Linda Rothenberg, and Miriam Vogelman. © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. The Gusford Collection. Photo: Donald Woodman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Judy Chicago in Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni
Thursday, October 12, 6:30–8:00 p.m. | New Museum Theater
Join Judy Chicago for a conversation to celebrate the opening of her career-spanning exhibition “Herstory.” She will speak with Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, to reflect on her sixty-year career, her pioneering role in feminist art and discourse, and the expansive “exhibition-within-an-exhibition” installed in “Herstory” that places her work in dialogue with art and writing by women across centuries. 

Judy Chicago: Herstory is on from October 12, 2023 – January 14, 2024 at the New Museum

©2023 New Museum, Judy Chicago