20 November, 2006

The Dinner Party

In early 2007, The Dinner Party will be permanently housed at the Brooklyn Museum as part of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.



Judy Chicago, an artist from the 1970's who was influenced by Hosmer and Lewis, created a huge table of place settings for her masterpiece. She created 39 different plates, each shaped like an intricate vulva, and each representing an important, but overshadowed woman in history. Chicago said that her, "primary aim was to celebrate women's achievements in the face of all odds. "

Her piece, entitled, The Dinner Party, turned the focus back to the art itself, rather than the artist, and as a result, became one of the most important pieces in American art to date.



The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art will be an exhibition and education facility dedicated to feminist art. Among the most ambitious, influential, and enduring artistic movements to emerge in the late twentieth century, feminist art has played a leading role in the art world over the last thirty years. Dramatically expanding the definition of art to be more inclusive in all areas, from subject matter to media, feminist art reintroduced the articulation of socially relevant issues, after an era of aesthetic “formalism,” while pioneering the use of performance and audiovisual media within a fine art idiom.

The Center’s mission will be to raise awareness of feminism’s cultural contributions; to educate new generations about the meaning of feminist art; to maintain a dynamic and welcoming learning facility; and to present feminism in an approachable and relevant way.

The Center’s 8,300-square-foot space will encompass a gallery devoted to Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (1974-79), a computerized study area, a biographical gallery, a gallery space to accommodate a regular exhibition schedule of feminist art, and additional space for the presentation of related public and educational programs.

The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art will open in the spring of 2007.


Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party is the single most important icon of 1970s feminist art. Begun in 1974 and finished in 1979, with the help of hundreds of collaborators, the large-scale work celebrates the achievements of 1,038 actual and mythical female figures, and pays tribute to all women who have been ignored or lost to history. As the artist explains, “The Dinner Party was meant to end the ongoing cycle of omission in which women were written out of the historical record.”

The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table measuring forty-eight feet on each side with a total of thirty-nine place settings. The “guests of honor” commemorated are designated by means of intricately embroidered runners, each executed in a historically specific manner; upon these are placed, for each setting, a gold chalice and utensils, and a china-painted porcelain plate with a raised central motif that is based on vulvae forms and rendered in a style appropriate to the individual woman being honored. The names of the other 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table.

This iconic work remains important on many levels. Not only was it the first truly monumental work of art, conceptualized by a woman, to celebrate women’s achievement throughout history, but its reclamation of several “crafts” traditionally associated with women (embroidery, china painting, ceramics), and its utilization of vaginal imagery, were unprecedented in art production at that time.

Feminist Art and (Post)Modern Anxieties
The Judy Chicago Retrospective

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