Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Judy Chicago's Opening Night

Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party (opening night, 14 March 1979)



The Dinner Party,
place settings for Mary Wollstonecraft and Sojourner Truth

One of the most amazing and controversial second-wave feminist works is Judy Chicago's monumental, multi-media art installation, The Dinner Party.

In an effort to reclaim women's history--and to provide a counternarrative to canonical art memorializing the New Testament story of the Last Supper--Chicago decided to use the idea of a banquet to create her symbolic history of women.

Instead of women's usual roles on such formal occasions, preparing the meal, serving it, and then cleaning up the mess, Chicago conceived of an oversize banquet table with place settings for thirty-nine women. Their individual place settings, each one of which includes a unique and elaborate needlework runner, a sculptural dinner plate, utensils, and a goblet, are arranged on three sides of a triangular table, each side of which is forty-eight feet long. This table is set on top of what Chicago calls a "heritage floor," 999 porcelain tiles, each one inscribed with the name of another notable woman.

The place settings are arranged chronologically, each side called a wing. The first wing begins with the primordial goddess and ends with Hypatia of Alexandria. The second begins with Marcella of Rome and extends to Anna van Schurman. The first place setting on the third wing is for Anne Hutchinson, the last for Georgia O'Keefe.

Almost lost for want of a home, The Dinner Party is now permanently displayed at the Virginia A Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. The Museum hosts an incredible gallery for online viewing. Included is a history of the art work, a virtual tour of the piece, from entry banners, detailed looks at each of the place settings, a description and viewing of the Heritage Floor and seven Heritage Panels. 

If you can't go to Brooklyn, at the very least take the online tour today!

The banquet table, The Dinner Party