Published by Nye+Brown/Foundation 2021. Edited by Katherine Chan. Introduction by Tim Nye, Lexi Brown. Text by Saul Ostrow. Interview by Lucy Lippard.
Before she coined the term “feminist art” and produced the movement’s most iconic work, “The Dinner Party,” Judy Chicago (born 1939) was living in Los Angeles and making work partly inspired by the city’s “Finish Fetish” and “Light and Space” schools--serial abstract pieces characterized by throbbing color, logo-like geometricism and slick production values. Unlike the sculpture of her male Los Angeles contemporaries, however, Chicago’s early sculptures and paintings reveled in bodily--specifically genital--references that distanced her from their concerns and instead began to define the possibilities of a new feminist art. This phase in Chicago’s career, sometimes described as her “Minimal Period,” produced several innovative series: the Hood paintings on Chevy car hoods, which featured heavily stylized vaginas and penises in brightly colored mirrored patterns; abstract sculptural “game boards” that riffed on children’s games and building blocks; several series of small, iridescent acrylic domes arranged in groups of three; and the Flesh Gardens and Fresno Fan series of sprayed acrylic lacquer on acrylic and Prismacolor on paper. Many of these early works exhibit Chicago’s early technical mastery (she attended auto body school and apprenticed with boat workers and pyro-technicians after her graduate student days at UCLA). Spanning the years between 1961 and 1973, Judy Chicago: Deflowered is the first to gather and examine these seminal early works. It includes a DVD of three of her Atmosphere performances, which also date from this time.