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The Dinner Party: Restoring Women to History

Overview

The official publication celebrating Judy Chicago’s feminist art masterpiece, The Dinner Party installation at the Brooklyn Museum, and an introduction to outstanding women in history.
 
Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party is a defining work of feminist and contemporary art that brought women’s history to light on the national stage when it was completed in 1979. Published to coincide with Chicago’s 75th birthday and a nationwide series of ...

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Overview

The official publication celebrating Judy Chicago’s feminist art masterpiece, The Dinner Party installation at the Brooklyn Museum, and an introduction to outstanding women in history.
 
Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party is a defining work of feminist and contemporary art that brought women’s history to light on the national stage when it was completed in 1979. Published to coincide with Chicago’s 75th birthday and a nationwide series of events and exhibitions, the book features newly commissioned photography and two new essays by Chicago, along with essays by art historian Frances Borzello and historian Jane Gerhard, and a foreword from museum director Arnold Lehman.
 
The Dinner Party, a monumental triangular table, and the Heritage Floor on which the table rests, represents 1,038 women in history—39 by unique large ceramic plates and runners with another 999 names inscribed on the floor’s ceramic tiles. It has been seen by more than a million visitors during its international exhibition tour, and has been a principal destination at the Brooklyn Museum since its permanent housing in 2007. A perfect companion to a revolutionary artwork, the book is a must-have for both long-standing fans of Judy Chicago’s oeuvre and young artists and women looking for reflections of themselves in the history of Western Civilization.

When Judy Chicago's multimedia exhibit "The Dinner Party" opened in the 1970s, it was hailed "an icon of feminist art" (ARTnews) and was seen by nearly one million people. Now, in a book celebrating the re-opening of the exhibit in Los Angeles later this year, Chicago updates the themes, interpretation, and history of her landmark exhibit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/24/2014
When noted feminist artist Chicago was an undergrad, one of her history professors declared: “Women’s contributions to European intellectual history? They made none.” As she explains in the introduction to the first book to represent her groundbreaking mixed-media installation “The Dinner Party” (1974-79), this comment inspired her to create an alternative history of women’s cultural, political, and scholarly achievements. Consisting of 39 handmade place settings, celebrating notable women from the primordial goddess to Georgia O’Keefe, the installation has been permanent housed in the Brooklyn Museum’s Sackler Center for Feminist Art since 2007. Chicago describes the work’s genesis, evolution, its collective nature, problematic exhibition history, and public impact. Organized to mirror the exhibition, each section is divided into four chronological wings, rather than chapters, and includes a short description of the woman represented and a photograph of her plate and place setting. Surrounding the photographs are summaries of the other women whose 999 names are inscribed on the ceramic tile floor (“Heritage Floor”) on which the triangular table rests. Many of the plates photograph well, particularly those for Sappho and Virginia Woolf, and handmade runners are spectacular. In this volume, published to coincide with her 75th birthday and including a foreword by Brooklyn Museum director Arnold L. Lehman, and essays by Frances Borzello and Jane F. Gerhard, Chicago offers a vibrant visual and textual encyclopedia of female achievement. 100 color illus. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“Organized to mirror the exhibition, each section is divided into four chronological wings, rather than chapters, and includes a short description of the woman represented and a photograph of her plate and place setting. Surrounding the photographs are summaries of the other women whose 999 names are inscribed on the ceramic tile floor (“Heritage Floor”) on which the triangular table rests. Many of the plates photograph well, particularly those for Sappho and Virginia Woolf, and handmade runners are spectacular. In this volume, published to coincide with her 75th birthday, Judy Chicago offers a vibrant visual and textual encyclopedia of female achievement.” —Publishers Weekly

“Serves as a kind of user’s manual to that iconic work of feminist art that once inspired an 87-minute debate in the U.S. House of Representatives over whether it was art or pornography. In this new book, Chicago explains in exquisite detail the art work surrounding the 1,038 women’s names memorialized by The Dinner Party and how the art expresses the fight for women’s rights from antiquity to today.” —Big Think

Library Journal
One of the earliest organizers of the 1970s women's movement in art, Chicago has remained a high-profile, controversial multimedia feminist artist. These two works can be read as sequels/updates to Chicago's three previous books: her outspoken Through the Flower (LJ 3/15/75), The Dinner Party (LJ 6/1/79), and Embroidering Our Heritage (LJ 12/80). Chicago established her international reputation early on with the first book, an indiscreet, youthful autobiography that decried, sometimes in street language, her personal pain as a woman artist within a patriarchal society. In her updated Beyond the Flowers, as in the Dinner Party, expanded for a reopening debut in Los Angeles, she laments the vicissitudes of her personal life and career and the vast amount of money still needed to find a permanent home for her famous/infamous collaborative installation. "The Dinner Party" now appears in standard Western art survey texts. It records 1,038 mythical and historical women of Western civilization, especially honoring 39 of these with place settings on a triangular banquet table 48' per side. Controversy surrounded the imagery of the 39 plates, multicolor, explicit depictions of vaginas as harshly aggressive genitalia that are often criticized as inappropriate stand-ins for famous women. In The Dinner Party, a judiciously edited commemoration of a recent showing of the work, Chicago responds, "What is wrong with that?" Both books are essential for social, political, and feminist art collections.Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson State Univ., Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580933896
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2014
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 336,251
  • Product dimensions: 8.06 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

A preeminent artist, author, feminist, and educator, Judy Chicago’s work and life have been devoted to expanding women’s presence in the arts and in art history. Her art is frequently exhibited in the United States and internationally. The Dinner Party is her best-known work.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Creation of the Dinner Party 15
Wing One: From Prehistory to Classical Rome 22
Wing Two: From the Beginning of Christianity to the Reformation 60
Wing Three: From the American Revolution to the Women's Revolution 104
A Tour of the Dinner Party 161
The Dinner Party as Symbol 211
Acknowledgments 228
Index 231
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