Arts

The guys said "you can't be a woman and an artist."

Judy Chicago, born in 1939, is an American artist known mainly for pieces that explore the history of women. In 1962, she graduated from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) in Fine Arts. According to Judy Chicago, the art world was very hostile towards female artists, she would often be ask how she could possibly be both a woman – wife and mother – and an artist. Being introduced in such a sexist context, the artist began to research women’s history to find out if anyone else had struggled with the same issues she was experiencing.

What Chicago realised was far worse. Unlike men, whose history we all know, women’s history had been consumed. In university she hadn’t learned about important historical female figures, what she had been thought was that women had no history, no important accomplishments. Judy started researching further in and found out there were actually several remarkable women. Thus, she felt the need to create a piece of work that could show the world some of these women whose history had been omitted.

The Dinner Party, an icon of feminist art and a milestone in twentieth-century art, consists in an installation that represents a massive ceremonial banquet composed by three tables arranged in a triangle, a feminine symbol, with 13 place settings on each, referring to the biblical last supper, where there were 13 men. Totalizing 39 places, each one representing an important woman from history. Besides that, the artist felt the need to honour other 999 women be writing their names in the tile floor bellow the table.

Judy Chicago exhibited archival pieces of the early stages of the Dinner Party at the Rifflemaker Gallery in London, along with the inauguration of her first exhibition at the Tate Modern, as part of a major pop art show: The World goes Pop, that will be open until 2016.