Celebrated Feminist Artist Judy Chicago Takes New Museum by Storm in Retrospective Show “Herstory”

“Judy Chicago: Herstory,” 2023. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Courtesy New Museum. Photo: Dario Lasagni

Judy Chicago is everyone’s favorite feminist artist. She rocked fiery red hair and bold yellow and green makeup in the 2018 April Times issue, and now, at 84 years old, she’s still rocking funky hues. She’s hard to miss.

But her work is even harder to miss. Taking up four floors, her retrospective, “Judy Chicago: Herstory,” is currently on view at the New Museum in New York, featuring six decades of her work as a feminist artist, art educator, and cultural historian.

In “Herstory,” on view through January 14, 2024, viewers will see her most important works across media, including Atmospheres, her infamous smoke and fireworks performances done in the backdrop of the Californian desert, to needlework and tapestries to documentation of “Womanhouse,” the fabled 1972 installation staged in an abandoned Hollywood mansion by Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s Feminist Art Program.

What If Women Ruled the World? (2022) is one of the participatory artworks on display in the New Museum’s Sky Room. The “call and response project” was created with Maria Grazia Chiuri of DIOR. It showcases answers from around the globe from those who imagine a different matriarchal future, and all are welcome to participate.

On its site, it states: Thousands of global responses have been ‘digitally threaded’ together to create Judy Chicago’s Monumental ‘What if Women Ruled the World’ Participatory Quilt, demonstrating the power of her collaborative and transformative practice as she continues to inspire future generations.

This is more than a quilt; it is a global dialogue, a historical canvas, and a dynamic testament to the collective spirit of our time, manifested through the visionary lens of Judy Chicago.

The selected pieces trace Chicago’s journey in expanding Second Wave Feminism, and she continues this mission by featuring an exhibition-within-the-exhibition, “The City of Ladies.” The special display includes more than eighty women and genderqueer artists and writers.

Some brilliant names include Simone de Beauvoir, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, and Zora Neale Hurston. It is also a nod to her first pivotal piece, The Dinner Party, first displayed in 1979 with thirty-nine embroidered placemats set for symbolic historical women.

Judy Chicago tenaciously shows that throughout time, artists of any identity can continue to make art a flourishing space.

Judy Chicago, 2023. © Donald Woodman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Donald Woodman