Pictures from the exhibition: Judy Chicago and Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick, Tracey Emin 1-8
This exhibition contains work of an adult nature. Please use your discretion when visiting with children.
November 2012 sees Judy Chicago exhibiting in London for the first time since 1985. Ben Uri is delighted to host the first UK museum survey for the distinguished American contemporary artist, which will provide the first opportunity to see her work since the tour of her pioneering installation The Dinner Party. Symbolic of the history of women in western civilisation, The Dinner Party, which has been seen by over one million visitors, is now on permanent display at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
At Ben Uri works are drawn from the artist's personal archive and from public collections in the USA and are contextualised for the first time with work by Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick and Tracey Emin, three distinguished European artists, each of whom has addressed similar issues in her own distinctive fashion during the latter part of the 20th century/early 21st century.
UK lenders of works by Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick and Tracey Emin include Tate, British Museum and the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, as well as a number of private collectors. Together they create a revealing transatlantic dialogue.
Born into a left-wing, politically-active Jewish family in Chicago in 1939, Judy Cohen grew up in a household in which human rights and values were issues of principle, and the empowerment of the individual was an imperative rather than an aspiration. This environment, and the untimely death of her father, helped to shape the artist known today as Judy Chicago. A prodigious talent, she was enrolled in art classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at the age of five. In 1957 she moved to Los Angeles to study art at the University of California, and in 1970 she legally changed her name to Judy Chicago to liberate herself from the perceived male-dominance in the art world. The combination of talent, sheer will, vision, courage and ambition led her to become one of the most pioneering, daring and controversial artists of her generation.
Her early works have undergone critical reassessment following her significant recent positioning within the Getty Research Institute’s ‘Pacific Standard Time’ series of exhibitions, held between October 2011 and February 2012, which sought to reconsider the contribution of West Coast artists to the American art scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Furthermore, The Dinner Party (1979), on permanent display in the Brooklyn Museum since 2007, initially disparaged and misunderstood by critics and the establishment alike, is now recognised as a ground-breaking work, as an icon of both the feminist art movement and of twentieth century American art history. This extraordinarily ambitious collaborative piece, and the controversy it stimulated, opened the door for feminine self-expression in the arts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ben Uri's introductory survey presents a unique perspective on the art of Judy Chicago, highlighting selected major themes from more than four decades, explored primarily through works on paper, but also addressing a range of media, including painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, film, performance and textile work. In contrast to the monumental series and large-scale works for which Chicago is best known, the exhibition reveals a more private and intimate side to her work, hitherto largely unfamiliar to the public. The exhibition explores recurrent themes which emerge from her art: autobiography, art as diary, erotica, feminism, the nude, self-portraiture, issues of masculine power, birth and motherhood - and the cat.
There will be over 170 individual examples of Judy’s work on display, ranging from early feminist imagery, documentation of early performances, pieces from the Birth Project, erotica, and a number of autobiographical works. These include the highly personal Autobiography of a Year - which comprises 140 small, intensely revealing drawings made during the course of the year 1993-94, the whole installation punctuated by splashes of vibrant colour corresponding to the artist's changing moods. Also on display is the Excision sketchbook which addresses the artist's hysterectomy and which has not been seen in public before. The exhibition will also provide the first exciting opportunity to see together the seven prints which comprise the series Retrospective in a Box, only recently proofed at Landfall Press in Santa Fe. These seven images each represent key projects/stages in Chicago's oeuvre, including her early abstract work, her first feminist images, the Birth Project, the Holocaust Project, Power Play and finally, self-image.
Complementing the Ben Uri exhibition is the Body I am exhibition at the Alison Jacques Gallery. The artists, Birgit Jürgenssen, Ana Mendieta and Hannah Wilke, "three of the most radical and enduring female voices of late twentieth-century practice", confronted "the pains and pleasures of contemporary female experience using their own physical identities as their primary medium".
Judy Batalion - Canadian art historian and writer who discusses Judy Chicago and the other artists on display in the context of 'memoir'.
Frances Borzello - art historian and writer, presents an overview of Chicago's artistic career.
Diane Gelon - original administrator for The Dinner Party UK tour, 1984-85, writes on the history and background to the tour.
Alexandra Kokoli - Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, writes on Chicago and the other artists on display from a current feminist academic perspective.
Andrew Perchuk - Deputy Director, Getty Research Institute in California, writes on Chicago's early works in California in the 1960s-early 1970s.
The book is edited by Rachel Dickson, Head of Curatorial Services at Ben Uri.
Copyright: Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman, The estate of Louise Bourgeois, The estate of Helen Chadwick, Tracey Emin.
Ben Uri, The London Jewish Museum of Art, has a gallery in St John's Wood (north London). You can visit us at:
108A Boundary Road, London NW8 0RH
Tel: +44 (0)207 604 3991
Monday 1pm - 5:30pm
Tuesday to Friday 10am - 5:30pm
Sunday 12:00 - 4pm
Please note: we close at 3:30pm on Fridays during winter (from 1 November to 1 March).
Pesach: 26, 27 March and 1, 2 April
Shavuot: 15, 16 May
Rosh Hashanah: 5, 6 Sep
Yom Kippur Shabbat: 14 Sep
Sukkoth: 19, 20 Sep and 26, 27 Sep
How to travel to Ben Uri
By rail: Underground stations St Johns Wood, Swiss Cottage, and Maida Vale are about 15 minutes walk away; West Hampstead and Kilburn High Road London Overground stations are also within walking distance.
By bus: Buses 189 and 139 stop at the junction of Abbey Road and Boundary Road. Bus 31 Stops at the junction of Belsize Road and Abbey Road, a short walk from Boundary Road. Go to Transport for London to plan your journey by rail or bus.
Driving: There is metered car parking on Boundary Road and there is also a disabled parking bay in Boundary Road.