Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NPR's Interview with Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party"
On October 12, 2010, host Jacki Lyden interviews Judy Chicago about the release of her new book "Frida Kahlo: Face to Face," with art historian Frances Borzello. You may know Judy Chicago from her 1970's piece "Dinner Party" an important icon of feminist art. It is composed of a large triangular table with thirty-nine place settings on it. Each place setting represents an important woman from history.The plates are painted china in styles that are appropriate for each individual they represent. Another 999 women are also honored in "Dinner Party," however, their names are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. All together Judy Chicago honors 1,038 women at this table.

Close up of "Dinner Party
The book created by Judy and her collaborator Frances Borzello is told is told in the context of how female painters have been treated, not so much focusing on the life of Frida Kahlo. The two also divided Kahlo's work into nine themes in the book. Some of the themes include, images of her friends and family, images of herself, her exploration of her Mexican identity, images of Diego Rivera and more. During the interview, Judy stated "We also wanted to do something slightly different from what's been done with Kahlo, which is, one, to look her overall body of art. You know, I looked at a lot of the books that have been written about Frida Kahlo and I have to say I found a lot of the writing aggravating because there were writers who would talk about particular paintings of hers that were done in their opinion in reaction to particular actions of Diego Rivera. And, of course, you know, there's a tendency to look at women artists in relationship to their biographies and their relationship with men. And one of the things I say in the book is that if you read a book about Jackson Pollock in which the writer talked about his paintings being created in response to what happened in his marriage to Lee Krasner - I mean, that is totally unthinkable.....it makes them reactive rather than active." And so Judy then goes on to describe the different themes throughout the book, one of them being Kahlo posing with her animals such as "Self-Portrait with Monkey, 1940," which is the painting shown here. She tells us that Kahlo's work hasn't been looked at holistically like a lot of other women artists, and then the book goes into the other factors of why Kahlo's work was treated the way it was.  Judy Chicago finishes the interview with a quote "There has to be more room for us as artists. We have to be able to be seen in our fullness in terms of our own artistic agency, and we're a long way from that." Which was a strong note to end on. So look out for "Frida Kahlo: Face to Face," by Judy Chicago with Frances Borzello.


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