The Art Angle Podcast: Judy Chicago on How to Build a Lasting Art Career

The artist's retrospective is on view at the de Young Museum through January 9, 2022.

Judy Chicago, 2020. © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY.

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If you’re familiar with the artist Judy Chicago, chances are you associate her with one piece: her magnum opus The Dinner Party, an epic work of installation art featuring elaborate place settings for 39 famous women, both mythical and historical, at a triangular banquet table.

The feminist masterpiece took nearly six years and a veritable army of some 400 volunteers to complete. It became an international sensation, attracting 16 million visitors on a 10-year tour of the globe, largely organized by Chicago and her team in the absence of institutional support from the art world. But the artwork, now on permanent view at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, is conspicuously absent from the 82-year-old artist’s first-ever retrospective, which opened in August, after more than a year’s delay, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

The show is something of a homecoming for Chicago, who debuted The Dinner Party in the city at SFMOMA in 1979—but she’s pleased that the exhibition, which does include preparatory Dinner Party works, is finally putting the spotlight on the rest of her career. “Judy Chicago: A Retrospective,” curated by Claudia Schmuckli, presents some 130 artworks that seemingly encompass every medium, from paintings and drawings to tapestries and ceramics, and even photographs of her ephemeral “Women and Smoke” firework performance art series.

Amid a busy fall that has seen Chicago repeatedly crisscross the country, traveling to both coasts from her home in the tiny town of Belen, New Mexico, senior writer Sarah Cascone was lucky enough to pin her down during a visit to New York for a rare pandemic-era in-person interview.


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