Judy Chicago: Revelations Book Review – Artlyst


“Judy Chicago: Revelations,” co-published by Serpentine and Thames & Hudson, accompanies Judy Chicago’s first major institutional exhibition in London. This illuminated manuscript marks a significant milestone in the artist’s illustrious career, offering an unprecedented look into her decades-long exploration of women’s history and their overlooked contributions to society.

The manuscript, a long-held secret by Chicago, presents a revolutionary retelling of human history, resurrecting the narratives of women that have been systematically erased. Born alongside her iconic installation “The Dinner Party” in the mid-1970s, “Revelations” is a cornerstone in comprehending Chicago’s artistic vision. The work is deeply rooted in her extensive research into goddess worship and women’s history, offering a vivid and lavishly illustrated narrative that spans fifty years of dedicated practice.

The book is a visual and intellectual feast designed by Jessica Fleischmann and Phil Kovacevich. It includes contributions from Serpentine Associate Exhibitions Curator Chris Bayley and scholar Martha Easton, alongside an illuminating interview between Chicago and Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist. The design, which complements Chicago’s manuscript, creates an immersive reading experience that reflects the depth and complexity of her work.

Judy Chicago, born in 1939, rose to prominence in the late 1960s with her art that consistently challenged the male-dominated art world. Her work is distinguished by a solid commitment to craft and experimentation, addressing themes such as birth, masculinity, Jewish identity, power, extinction, and climate justice. Over her six-decade career, Chicago has developed a unique visual language that foregrounds women’s experiences, consistently contesting their absence from the Western cultural canon.

The “Revelations” exhibition at Serpentine Gallery underscores the importance of Chicago’s contributions to contemporary art. The most extensive solo presentation of her work in a London institution, the show is organized thematically around the chapters of the manuscript. It showcases archival and previously unseen artworks, early abstract and minimalist pieces from the 1960s and 70s, and an immersive video installation of her site-specific performances featuring coloured smoke and fireworks. The exhibition also includes preparatory studies for major projects like “The Dinner Party,” “Birth Project, and “PowerPlay, as well as notebooks and sketchbooks that reveal her meticulous working process and extensive research.

“Revelations is more than just a book; it is a testament to Judy Chicago’s relentless pursuit of justice and equity through art. The publication and the accompanying exhibition offer a profound insight into her revolutionary approach to art-making, celebrating her enduring legacy and unwavering commitment to making women’s stories visible. This illuminated manuscript is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary art, feminist history, and the transformative power of creativity.

Buy this book HERE


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