Judy Chicago, herself, talking about the creation of her amaaaaaaaaazing work, “The Dinner Party (1979)” in The Guardian.
The LA art scene was extremely macho in the 60s and few women were taken seriously. For a decade I struggled to make a place for myself, but to accomplish this I had to adopt “male drag” – that is, make work that looked like that of my male peers and echoed their concerns. By the end of that time I was fed up and wanted to be myself as a woman. I decided to look into history to see if there had been any before me who had encountered similar obstacles.
This was before there were any women’s studies classes, so I had to ferret out information entirely on my own. What I discovered changed my life. It also enraged me because my professor was completely wrong. Unfortunately, ignorant convictions like his continue to hold sway, exemplified by Caitlin Moran’s recent book, How To Be a Woman. “Even the most ardent feminist historian … can’t conceal that women have basically done fuck-all for the last 100,000 years,” she writes. The truth is that for centuries women have struggled to be heard, writing books, making art and music and challenging the many restrictions on women’s lives. But their achievements have been repeatedly written out of history.
I set out to chronicle this ongoing erasure in my installation The Dinner Party, a monumental, symbolic history of women in western civilisation. It created a major stir when it premiered in 1979. Originally slated to travel to a number of museums, the tour collapsed in the face of vitriolic reviews, sometimes (sadly) written by women.