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The Brooklyn Museum celebrates Judy Chicago's 75th birthday with a survey of the artist's early career
Judy Chicago (American, born 1939). Rainbow Pickett, 1964. Latex paint on canvas-covered plywood, 126 x 126 x 110 in. (320 x 320 x 279.4 cm). Collection of David and Dianne Waldman, Rancho Mirage, CA. © Judy Chicago, Photo © Donald Woodman.
BROOKLYN, NY.- Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Work 1963–74, the first survey on the East Coast of the artist’s early career, is on view at the Brooklyn Museum from April 4 through September 28, 2014. The exhibition places this early material within the arc of Chicago’s broader production and continues the reappraisal of the artist’s importance as a pioneer in the California art scene. It brings together more than fifty five objects, featuring Chicago’s Minimalist sculpture alongside her Female Rejection Series, her large-scale paintings, and documentation of her environments and performances.

Approaching her seventy-fifth birthday, Chicago is internationally recognized as one of the leading figures in feminist art. This exhibition focuses on the first decade of her career, surveying the less familiar but significant work produced when she lived in Los Angeles. While there, she was a participant in the Finish Fetish School, which responded to the rapid post–World War II industrialization of the West Coast with its own brightly colored, high-gloss form of Minimalism. Through Chicago in L.A., audiences will become familiar with the first stages of Chicago’s feminist practice, as well as her early twists on such traditionally masculine techniques as welding, car painting, and pyrotechnics.

On view is her Minimalist sculpture Rainbow Pickett, made from monochrome painted canvas stretched over plywood frames. Rainbow Pickett was created for Chicago’s first solo gallery show, held at the Rolf Nelson Gallery in Los Angeles in January 1966, and was also included in the important exhibition Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum in the fall of that year. Also included is Heaven Is for White Men Only. Made with sprayed acrylic lacquer, a material typically used for decorating cars, this piece engages with color theory and traditionally male domains automotive and mechanical work.

Born in 1939 as Judith Cohen in Chicago, Illinois, the artist took the name of her hometown as her surname following the deaths of her father and first husband. Chicago’s iconic The Dinner Party, begun forty years ago this year, is housed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum and is widely regarded as the first epic feminist artwork. The monumental installation features thirty-nine elaborate place settings, on a large triangular table, that represent a wide range of historically significant women, including Virginia Woolf, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Illuminating the beginning of Chicago’s five-decade career, Chicago in L.A. contextualizes the iconic The Dinner Party as a work that emerged from decades of artistic experimentation, theoretical exploration, and feminist community building.

Judy Chicago is well known as one of the leading figures in promoting and articulating a feminist approach to art-making. She pioneered feminist art and art education in the early 1970s through unique programs for women at California State University-Fresno and, later (with Miriam Schapiro), at the California Institute of the Arts. Chicago is the recipient of numerous grants, awards, and honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities, and her work is in the collections of numerous museums, including the British Museum; Brooklyn Museum; Getty Trust; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe; National Museum of Women in the Arts; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Chicago in L.A. is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.

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