Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago's Dinner Party in Feminist Art History

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9780520205666: Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago's Dinner Party in Feminist Art History

In April 1996 Judy Chicago's controversial 1979 work, "The Dinner Party", will make its first appearance in Los Angeles. The reemergence of this piece, which has been in storage since 1988, signals a renewed interest in a cultural monument that has vexed historians and critics of contemporary art for nearly twenty years. A monumental table in the form of an equilateral triangle, "The Dinner Party" honours 1,038 women in Western history, 39 of whom are represented at the table itself by elaborate needlepoint runners and ceramic plates decorated with centralised, often vulgar motifs. When the piece was shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1979, it drew the largest audience in that museum's history. It also engendered vehement negative responses, leading several other venues to cancel the exhibition. "Sexual Politics" places "The Dinner Party" alongside other important feminist works, from Louise Bourgeois's "Femme Maison" series of the mid-1940s to Judie Bamber's paintings of female genitalia (1994). The essays in this collection, accompanied by over 150 illustrations, provide a major re-evaluation of the feminist art movement. Segments from original interviews with feminists such as Lucy Lippard, Suzanne Lacy, Arlene Raven, and Miriam Schapiro are included, along with a timeline that traces the feminist art movement in relation to other cultural and historical events. For years "The Dinner Party" has revealed deep divisions both inside and outside the feminist movement. "Sexual Politics" raises fundamental questions about those divisions, and about what is at stake in the politics of identity in the 1990s.

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From Library Journal:

Completing a trilogy begun with Chicago's recent Beyond the Flower and The Dinner Party (both LJ 6/96), this volume is the actual catalog of the reappearance of Chicago's peripatetic icon of feminist art. But "The Dinner Party" is only one of about 100 other feminist artworks, created by 55 women artists, that were put on display at the Armand Hammar Museum to bring 1970s feminist art into perspective and even to document "the visibility of the vagina in women's art of the 1990s." Only a few portions of this engrossing study seem a bit more prurient than necessary. Chicago herself is not a contributor, but there is much discussion of her reputation, career, and various works. Among the seven mostly academic essays, much is added by A. Kubitza's "Rereading the Readings of 'The Dinner Party' in Europe" and L. Cottingham's "Eating from 'The Dinner Party' Plates and Other Myths, Metaphors, and Moments of Lesbian Enunciation in Feminism and Its Art Movement." Well recommended for serious collections on feminism.?Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson State Univ., Md.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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