Judy Chicago - chicago's feminist biography chicago's profile picture of the feminist feminist chicago's artist

Judy Chicago /   Judith Sylvia Cohen

United States 1939

Installation, Sculpture, Painting


Judy Chicago
Judith Sylvia Cohen
United States
December 22, 2016
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreja-velimirovi%C4%87-74068a68/

One of the key pioneers of Feminist art, Judy Chicago is an American artist, educator and the author of the written word known primarily for her large art installation pieces which shed light on the role of women both in history and in culture. This artist has been challenging the heavily male-dominated art world since the 1970s. Chicago’s colorful body of work includes a wide range of media and techniques as this author has presented the public with countless paintings, tapestries, sculptures and mixed-media installations over the course of her career. In one way or another, all of these artworks were intended to celebrate women’s achievements in various fields of human existence. Before we start, it should be noted that Chicago’s original name is Judith Sylvia Cohen – she legally assumed the name of her hometown after becoming a widow at the age of twenty-three in order to symbolize her lifelong struggle with identity.

The museum birth of the feminist flower was a contact with realism
Judy Chicago – Driving the World to Destruction, 1985 – Image via judychicago.com

The Relationship With Her Father and Early Concepts

As it was said above, Chicago’s real name is Judith Sylvia Cohen. She was, of course, born in the city of Chicago, during the year of 1939 to the parents of Arthur and May Cohen. Unlike the twenty-three of his predecessors, Arthur did not become a rabbi, instead opting to be a labor organizer and a Marxist – a feature that heavily impacted Judy’s early womanhood. His views on women’s status and their support played a big role in establishing Cohen’s young mindset and early work[1], but, unfortunately, Arthur’s health declined in the early 50s and he passed away the year of 1953 from peritonitis. May did not think much of her late husband and did not even allow Judith to attend Arthur’s funeral. Unsurprisingly, such a turn of events was quite traumatic for Chicago who did not come to terms with her father’s death until she was an adult – she was even hospitalized for almost a month with a bleeding ulcer attributed to nothing but unresolved grief. Since then, Judy has been channeling all of her pains, emotions and views on life through her art. This was ultimately not a surprise to anyone as Judith was saying that she never wanted to do anything but make art since the age of five.

In a time that was almost exclusively celebrating male artists, Judy Chicago dared to challenge such principals and brought them crashing down to the conceptual ground

Judy Chicago - chicago's Shadow of the Handgun, 1983 - Image via judychicagocom
Judy Chicago – The artist in the Shadow of the Handgun, 1983 – Image via judychicago.com

Initial Feminist and Personal Struggles

In order to develop her artistic potential, Judy attended the famous UCLA. During this time, she became politically active[2], designing posters for the NAACP and eventually became its corresponding secretary. This can be quite logically attributed to the young artist’s vision of her father and the political role he played during his life. In 1959, Chicago met and fell in love with Jerry Gerowitz. The new couple hitch-hiked their way to the New York City but were forced to return to Chicago in order for Judith to be able to graduate. The two married in the year of 1961. Due to the late grief of the death of her father and the lost connection to her name through marriage, Judith changed her official name to Judy Chicago.[3] Unfortunately, another tragic event was about to occur. Two years after their marriage was official, Gerowitz died in a car crash, causing his widow to suffer from a series of identity crises for years to follow. As a way of dealing with the situation, Chicago worked on a series of works called Bigamy, a project that was fundamentally an abstract depiction of male and female sexual organs. Her professors, who were mainly men, were dismayed over these works. Interestingly, although the feministic note of her work was more than obvious, Chicago never agreed to be labeled with any one collective description, explaining it with the following statement: I won’t show in any group defined as Woman, Jewish, or California. Someday when we all grow up there will be no labels.

Keeping her feministic goals in mind, Chicago embraced all the pieces of art whose creators were exclusively or mainly women brazenly dismissed by the male-oriented world of art

Arts movement found in the museum was a result of the Holocaust tragedy
Birth Hood, 1964 – Image via brooklynmuseum.org

Projects and Pieces of Judy Chicago

In 1965, Judy married a sculptor Lloyd Hamrol. Soon, she became a teacher at the California Institute for the Arts and was a leader for their Feminist Art Program. During the next couple of decades, Chicago was a lot more fortunate than in the previous chapters of her life. The art she was making was truly blossoming, resulting in more than a few fascinating pieces and projects that truly marked the feminist struggle of the period. Chicago would often describe her early artwork as minimalistic in nature and as her trying to be one of the boys. However, her later pieces often turned in other directions. Her Pasadena Lifesavers was a series of abstract paintings that placed acrylic paint on Plexiglas, creating an illusion of the turn, dissolve, open, close, vibrate, gesture and wiggle. Womenhouse was also an impressive endeavor as it opened some valuable dialogs about women’s statuses. The Dinner Party was Chicago’s masterpiece that took over five years and $250,000 to complete[4] – this large triangle consists of 39 place settings, each commemorating a historical or mythical female figure. Other notable works created by Judy are The Birth Project, Powerplay and The Holocaust Project. Judy yet again remarried in 1985, this time becoming a wife of a photographer Donald Woodman.

By creating colorful work that recognized various achievements of major female figures in history, Judy Chicago created an impressive portfolio that managed to enhance the status of women in art

The feminist movement made women create a new flower project for the university education
Judy Chicago – The Dinner Party, Installation Overview at Brooklyn Museum – Image via brooklynmuseum.org

Judy Chicago’s Place In Art History and Feminism

Nowadays, the name of Judy Chicago is virtually synonymous with early feminist art. She serves the role of an inspiration for all the younger generations wishing to go down a similar artistic path and participate in the women’s struggle for artistic rights. Via her colorful work, Judy did not only write out what can arguably be described as the most important chapters of feminism in art history[5], but this author can also be credited with literally influencing a positive change within our societies. Chicago’s work has successfully reflected women’s lives, called attention to the female roles within society and managed to alter the conditions under which ladies’ contemporary art was produced and received. Conclusively, Judy proved that the male-oriented Western artistic canon was not as correct as the majority thought, redressing women’s traditional underrepresentation in the visual arts that was all so present in the time Chicago was starting her career. This author’s artworks literally influenced tangible positive changes within our culture – something that should be the ultimate goal of any pivotal artist.[6]

Judy Chicago lives and works in New Mexico, United States.


  1. Chicago, J., Through The Flower: My Struggle as A Woman Artist, Authors Choice Press, 2016
  2. Chicago, J., Institutional Time: A Critique of Studio Art Education, The Monacelli Press, 2014
  3. Levin, G., Becoming Judy Chicago: A Biography of the Artist, Crown, 2007
  4. Gerhard, J., Potter, C., Romano, R., The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970-2007 (Since 1970: Histories of Contemporary America Ser.), University of Georgia Press, 2013
  5. Lucie-Smith, E., Judy Chicago, An American Vision, Watson-Guptill; 1st edition, 2000
  6. Lippard, L., Wylder, V. T., Lucie-Smith, E., Sackler, E., Judy Chicago, Watson-Guptill Publications; First Edition, 2002

Featured image: Judy Chicago – The artist’s portrait with the Dinner Party – Image via jewishlouisville.org
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Feminist Avant-Garde Of The 1970S The Photographers' Gallery, LondonGroup
2016Why Not Judy Chicago?Musée d'art contemporain, BordeauxSolo
2016The Natural Order of ThingsMuseo Jumex, Mexico CityGroup
2015Rumors of the MeteorFrac Lorraine, Metz, FranceGroup
2015Pretty Raw: After And Around Helen Frankenthaler Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MAGroup
2015Women's Work: Feminist Art from the CollectionSmith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MAGroup
2015Gender in Art Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK), KrakowGroup
2014Surveying Judy Chicago: 1970 – 2014RedLine, Denver, COSolo
2014Judy Chicago’s Feminist Pedagogy and Alternative SpacesBrooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NYSolo
2014Heads UpDavid Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2014Local Color: Judy Chicago in New Mexico 1984 – 2014New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2014Judy Chicago: A Butterfly for OaklandOakland Museum of California, Oakland, CASolo
2014Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Work, 1963–74Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NYSolo
2014The Very Best of Judy ChicagoMana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJSolo
2014Judy Chicago: Through the ArchivesSchlesinger Library, Cambridge, MASolo
2014Surveying Judy Chicago: Five DecadesPalmer Museum of Art, University Park, PASolo
2014Judy Chicago: Circa ’75National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DCSolo
2014TriocerosRegina Rex, New York, NYGroup
2014Surface to Air: Los Angeles Artists of the ‘60sKayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2014The Very Last Plastics Show: Industrial L.A. 1965 to the PresentNyehaus and Dorfman Projects, New York, NYGroup
2014ShaktiBrand New Gallery, Milan, ItalyGroup
2014Pop Art DesignBarbican Centre, London, UKGroup
2014L.A. Woman: Yesterday, Today and TomorrowForest Lawn Museum, Glendale, CAGroup
2014Everything Loose Will LandGraham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, ILGroup
2013Judy ChicagoFrieze Masters, London, UKSolo
2013Judy Chicago – DefloweredOslo Kunstforening, Oslo, NorwaySolo
2013Four QuestionsFulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, COSolo
2013Woven and StitchedDavid Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2013Judy ChicagoBen Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art, London, UKSolo
2013Life is the Only WayStiftelsen 3,14 and Bergen Kjøtt for Bontelabo, Bergen, NorwayGroup
2013Everything Loose Will LandYale School of Architecture Gallery, New Haven, CTGroup
2013Everything Loose Will LandMAK Center for Art and Architecture, West Hollywood, CAGroup
2013Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974Haus der Kunst, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2013The Spectrum of SexualityHebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York, NYGroup
2012Judy ChicagoRiflemaker, London, EnglandSolo
2012Judy Chicago: ReViewing PowerPlayDavid Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2012Surveying Judy Chicago: 1970–2010Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CASolo
2012Judy Chicago: Los Angeles – 1970’sJancar Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2012Judy Chicago: DefloweredNye + Brown, Los Angeles, CASolo
2012Judy ChicagoPalm Springs Fine Art Fair, Palm Springs, CASolo
2012Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A.J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012LA InvasionThe Gas Station, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2012Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. - 1945-1980Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2012L.A. Raw: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthyPasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CAGroup
2012Pacific Standard Time at the Platt Borstein GalleriesAmerican Jewish University, Bel Air, CAGroup
2012Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern CaliforniaNorton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CAGroup
2012Doing It In Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s BuildingOtis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012Los Angeles Goes Live: Exploring a Social History of Performance Art in Southern California, 1970-1983Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CAGroup
2012Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012The Big Picture: Paintings from Southern California, 1960 – 1980Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, Palm Springs, CAGroup
2011Judy Chicago: Setting the TableTom Thomson Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario, CanadaSolo
2011Judy Chicago Tapestries: Woven by Audrey CowanMuseum of Arts and Design, New York, NYSolo
2011Chicago in GlassLe Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, Montreal, Québec, CanadaSolo
2011Shifting the Gaze: Painting and FeminismThe Jewish Museum, New York, NYGroup
2011A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative TextilesHebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York, NYGroup
2010Surveying Judy Chicago: 1970–2010ACA Galleries, New York, NYSolo
2010Drawings from Judy Chicago’s The Dinner PartyEvansville Museum, Evansville, INSolo
2010Setting the Table: Preparing for Judy Chicago’s The Dinner PartyEvansville Museum, Evansville, INSolo
2010Judy Chicago: The Toby HeadsLewAllen Galleries (Railyard), Santa Fe, NMSolo
2010Judy Chicago in GlassArt Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TXSolo
2010Judy Chicago: A Survey of Artwork from 1968-2007Weiss Gallery, Calgary, CanadaSolo
2010Women Call for Peace: Global VistasArt League of Bonita Springs, Center for the Arts, Bonita, FLGroup
2010Women Call for Peace: Global VistasLaband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2010The Visible VaginaDavid Nolan Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2010Indomitable WomenCentre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Barcelona, SpainGroup
2009Judy Chicago: A Survey of Important WorksRouge Concept Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2009Rebelle. Art and feminism: 1969-2009Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Arnhem, NetherlandsGroup
2009So Close Yet So Far AwayKorean-Chinese Cultural Center, Incheon Women Artists’ Biennial, Incheon, South KoreaGroup
2009MaterUniversidad de Jaen, SpainGroup
2009Double Vision: Judy Chicago & Donald Woodman, A Feminist Icon and an Eloquent NarratorO’Connor Gallery, Toronto, CanadaGroup
2009Diana & Actaeon – The Forbidden Sight of NudityStiftung Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, GermanyGroup
2009Time & Place: Los Angeles 1957-1968Moderna Museet, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2009Forward Thinking: Building the MAD CollectionMuseum of Arts and Design, New York, NYGroup
2009Art and China’s RevolutionAsia Society, New York, NYGroup
2008Dinner with Judy ChicagoFlanders Gallery, Minneapolis, MNSolo
2008Voices of DissonanceACA Galleries, New York, NYGroup
2008Judy Chicago: Voices from Song of SongsMurray Edwards College, Cambridge, UKGroup
2008HealingNew Mexico Cancer Center, Albuquerque, NMGroup
2008Pink and Bent: The Art of Queer WomenLeslie Lohman Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008PengeWonderland Art Space, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
2008Female Forms and Facets: Artwork by Women from 1975 to the PresentChen Art Gallery, Central Connecticut State UniversityGroup
2008Votes for WomenHerstory Gallery at Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn MuseumGroup
2008WWW.WomenHeadbones Gallery, The Drawers, Toronto, CanadaGroup
2008Pricked: Extreme EmbroideryMuseum of Art and Design, New York, NYGroup
2008Claiming Space: Some American Feminist OriginatorsThe Katzen Arts Center at American University’s MuseumGroup
2007Chicago in GlassCanadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo, CanadaSolo
2007Judy Chicago: History in the Making: Preparatory Materials for The Dinner PartyLewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2007Judy Chicago: Setting the Table: Preparatory Work for The Dinner PartyACA Galleries, New York, NYSolo
2007OriginalsThe Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NMGroup
2007WACK - Art and the Feminist RevolutionNational Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, DCGroup
2007A Batalla Dos XenerosCentro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela, SpainGroup
2007ATTITUDE 2007Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, JapanGroup
2007Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - 45 years of Art & FeminismMuseo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Bilbao, SpainGroup
2007POST Painterly-AbstractionLocks Gallery, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2007WACK - Art and the Feminist RevolutionLos Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2007Into Me – Out of MeKunst-Werke Berlin e.V., Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2006Chicago in GlassLewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2006Judy ChicagoFlanders Gallery, Minneapolis, MNSolo
2006Into Me – Out of MeP.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NYGroup
2006Los Angeles 1955-1985Centre Pompidou, Paris, FranceGroup
2006How American Women Artists Invented Post-ModernismMason Gross School of the Arts Galleries, New Brunswick, NJGroup
2006Driven to Abstraction: Southern California and the Non-Objective World, 1950-1980Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CAGroup
2006Art in the AbstractIllinois State Museum Chicago Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2006Waldsee – 1944Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York, NYGroup
2005Judy ChicagoFlanders Gallery, Minneapolis, MNSolo
2005Judy ChicagoSarah Lee Art Works and Projects, Santa Monica, CASolo
2005Judy Chicago: Kitty City: A Feline Book of HoursACA Galleries, New York, NYSolo
2005FemmeeroticaO’Connor Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2005War and PeaceRio Bravo Fine Art, Inc., Truth or Consequences, NMGroup
2005How American Women Artists Invented Postmodernism: 1970 – 1975Mason Gross School of the Arts Galleries, New Brunswick, NJGroup
2005Western Biennale of Art: Art TomorrowJohn Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, CAGroup
2005Upstarts and Matriarchs: Jewish Women Artists and the Transformation of American ArtMizel Center for Arts and Culture, Denver, COGroup
2005Ms. Behavin: Jewish Feminist ArtistsSan Diego Center for Jewish Culture at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Gotthelf Gallery, La Jolla, CAGroup
2005Love for Sale: The Art of SensualityBankside Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2004Nine Fragments from the Delta of VenusFlanders Gallery, Minneapolis, MNSolo
2004Judy Chicago: Minimalism, 1965 – 1973LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2004Judy Chicago: Fragments from the Delta of Venus & Other FemmErotica: A Thirty-five Year SurveyACA Galleries, New York, NYSolo
2004Nine Fragments from the Delta of Venus and other Erotic PrintsPowerHouse Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2004Judy ChicagoKraft-Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2004Expo CNACMuseum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Mamco), Geneva, SwitzerlandGroup
2004A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958-1968The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los AngelesGroup
2004Envisioning the FutureMillard Sheets Gallery at the Pomona FairplexGroup
2003Judy ChicagoNational Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DCSolo
2003Salute to Feminists in the ArtsThe National Arts Club, New York, NYGroup
2003Larger Than Life: Women Artists Making It BigSusquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PAGroup
2003Naked Before GodThe Museum of New Art, Parnu, EstoniaGroup
2003Comer o no Comer (To eat or not to eat)Centro de Arte de Salamanca, Salamanca, SpainGroup
2003Women Artists: Past & PresentMartin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PAGroup
2003Archetype - Anonymous: Biblical Women in Contemporary ArtHebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York, NYGroup
2002Personal and Political: The Women’s Art Movement, 1969-1975Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New YorkGroup
2002From Eve to Huldah: Contemporary Artists Depict Women of the BibleCenter for Visual Art and Culture, University of Connecticut, Stamford, CTGroup
2001An Intimate Look into the Artist’s LifeFlanders Gallery, Minneapolis, MNSolo
2001Judy ChicagoLewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NMSolo
2001Judy ChicagoFitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, EnglandSolo
200130 Years of Prints and DrawingsPhebe Conley Gallery, California State University Fresno, Fresno, CASolo
2001Between Heaven and Earth: New Classical Movements in the Art of TodayOstend Museum of Modern Art, Ostend, BelgiumGroup
2001Jewish Artists on the EdgeYeshiva University Museum, New York, NYGroup
2000Judy ChicagoR. Michelson Galleries, Northampton, MASolo
1999Thinking About TreesRockford College Art Gallery, Rockford, ILSolo
1999Judy ChicagoLewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NMSolo
1997Judy ChicagoHanart TZ Gallery, Taipei, TaiwanSolo
1996Judy ChicagoGalerie Simonne Stern, New Orleans, LASolo
1996Judy ChicagoLewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NMSolo
1996Beyond the Flower: From the Seventies to the NinetiesFlanders Gallery, Minneapolis, MNSolo
1993Judy ChicagoJoy Horwich Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1991Judy ChicagoNemiroff-Deutsch Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
1988Accidents, Injuries and Other CalamitiesAndrew Smith Gallery, Santa Fe, NMSolo
1988Judy ChicagoJan Baum Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
1987Judy ChicagoWallace-Wentworth Gallery, Washington, DCSolo
1987Judy ChicagoACA Galleries, New York, NY Solo
1986Judy ChicagoMarilyn Butler Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZSolo
1986Powerplay: Judy ChicagoACA Galleries, New York, NYSolo
1986Judy ChicagoShidoni Gallery, Santa Fe, NMSolo
1985Judy ChicagoMarilyn Butler Fine Art, Santa Fe, NMSolo
1984Judy Chicago: The Second Decade 1973 – 1983ACA Galleries, New York, NYSolo
1980Judy ChicagoParco Galleries, Tokyo and Osaka, JapanSolo
1980Judy ChicagoHadler-Rodriguez Gallery, Houston, TXSolo
1976Judy ChicagoQuay Ceramics, San Francisco, CASolo
1975Judy ChicagoJPL Fine Arts, London, EnglandSolo
1974Judy ChicagoArtemisia Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1974Judy ChicagoKenmore Galleries, Philadelphia, PASolo
1972Judy ChicagoJack Glenn Gallery, Corona Del Mar, CASolo
1970Judy ChicagoCalifornia State University at Fullerton, Fullerton, CASolo
1969Judy ChicagoPasadena Museum of Art, Pasadena, CASolo
1966Judy ChicagoRolf Nelson Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
1965Judy ChicagoRolf Nelson Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo