Judy Chicago – Marie Antoinette 1973/2017
Dimensions: 26.25 x 25.75″ paper size / 21 x 21″ plate
Medium: four-color lithograph on cotton paper
Judy Chicago’s artworks are found in the permanent collections of the world’s top museums. Gloria Steinem, upon introducing her long time friend as she was being honored by the Hammer Museum, famously said she could define art history as before and after Judy Chicago. There are numerous monographs and books about Judy Chicago, including the most recent monograph published by National Museum of Women in the Arts. Art historians and curators can search the Judy Chicago Portal, which combines her archives at Harvard, Penn State, and National Museum of Women in the Arts. In 2020 Judy Chicago completed a widely acclaimed collaboration with Dior Couture in Paris, in which her Female Divine monumental sculpture was erected outside the Rodin Museum in Paris and housed her banners posing the question “What if Women Ruled the World?” Read more about why Dior invited her to collaborate with them to champion female is an iconic image by Judy Chicago, who is one of the most important contemporary artists of the last 100 years.
Judy Chicago’s “Marie Antoinette” from the Great Ladies series is a color lithograph based on an earlier large painting in sprayed acrylic on canvas, of the same name, from 1973. In the early 1970s Chicago developed her iconic butterfly motif, which may also be read as vaginal imagery abstracted into geometric form. This was a formative time in her career, when Chicago was shifting from the large scale, brightly hued minimal work into an art practice that focused on her experiences as a woman and as a woman artist.
The Great Ladies series may be seen as homage to their subjects, from Queen Elizabeth and Christine of Sweden to the writer Virginia Woolf. Marie Antoinette, notorious for her fate at the guillotine during the French revolution, is one of Chicago’s acknowledged great women throughout history. This series from the early 1970s, and the butterfly form as its central imagery, would later that decade expand into her epic “The Dinner Party,”, first exhibited in 1979 and now on permanent view at The Brooklyn Museum of Art. Here an original plan for a “last supper” comprised of women grew, based on a plethora of important women who made their mark on history, into a dinner party with 39 place settings and 999 additional names on ceramic floor tiles.
In this vibrantly colored lithograph, Chicago’s composition is ringed by a text in her recognizable cursive script, which reads, “Marie Antoinette—during her reign women artists enjoyed great success. But the French Revolution-which brought democracy to men-caused women artists to lose their status while the Queen lost her head.” One need only think of Vigée Lebrun, who had to flee Paris in 1789 because of her association with the Queen. Chicago’s lithograph pays homage to the great women in history, not only monarchs and rulers, but the artists who portrayed them.
Courtesy of Art + Culture Projects