Pioneering feminist Judy Chicago is back after long absence with three UK shows

By Mark Sheerin | 06 November 2012
Colour photo of an artist in a dark, red and atmospheric performance space
Judy Chicago at the Sublime Environment performance (2012)© Donald Woodman
Exhibition preview: Judy Chicago: Voices from The Song of Songs, The Black-E Gallery, Liverpool, November 8 – 30 2012; Judy Chicago: Deflowered, Riflemaker, London, November 12 – December 22 2012; Judy Chicago, Ben Uri, the London Jewish Museum of Art, London, November 14 2012 – March 10 2013

It looks almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy that Judy Chicago has been largely ignored in London since her last show here, in 1985. Much of her work is about the opportunities women lack, and which she has clearly ceded to a generation which includes Tracey Emin.

But things have somewhat changed and now the pioneering feminist is exhibiting in three different spaces on these isles, including a run at Ben Uri, the London Jewish Museum of Art, where her work can be seen alongside that of Emin, Helen Chadwick and Louis Bourgeois.

Chicago’s work at Ben Uri is both personal and public, comprising of a diary from the 90s and a look back across her career in the form of promotional prints. But don’t for one minute think that with two more shows running in other galleries this November, Chicago is spreading herself thin.

Riflemaker in Soho will be showing a series of paintings on car bonnets and other early works from between 1963 and 1971. The Black-E Gallery in Liverpool will display prints from a series based on The Song of Songs.

It is clear that when your career spans 50 years, even when you face traditional challenges based on gender, it will include enough work to have an impact on the art landscape

But the best-known work by this west coast artist will not be making the trip to England. This is an installation on an immovable scale, the Dinner Party, and it is Chicago’s overwhelming stage set for the arrival of 39 prominent female dinner guests.

It also makes reference to more than 1,000 other women, all of whom are also relatively overlooked. Three galleries doesn’t seem like enough, when you consider this.
  • The Black-E: Admission free. Call  0151 709 5109 for opening times; Riflemaker: Admission free; Open 10am-6pm Monday to Friday (from 12pm Saturday); Ben Uri: Admission free; open 10am-5.30pm Monday to Friday (12pm-4pm Sundays).

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.

More images:

a photo of a car bonnet painted with a stylised phallic symbol and female genitalia
Judy Chicago, Bigamy Hood, 1965/2011. Sprayed automotive lacquer on 1965 Corvair Car Hood© Photo: courtesy of Donald Woodman. Rilfemaker Gallery
a symmetrical blue painting that resembles the female genetalia and womb
Judy Chicago, The Crowning from The Birth Project, 1982© Judy Chicago Birth Rites Collection
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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