Judy Chicago – Natalie Barney Test Plate #2
Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 3″
Medium: China paint on porcelain
Judy Chicago’s original concept for “The Dinner Party” was multi-faceted in that her goal was to introduce the richness of women’s heritage into the culture in three ways; a monumental work of art, a book, and a film. The work of art, that was eventually housed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, includes ceremonial table settings representing 39 important historical female figures; including this place setting for Natalie Barney (1876-1972).
Natalie Barney was born in Ohio to a wealthy family but was against the social expectations of her class. At the age of twenty-four Barney escaped the constructs of her home in the United States and moved to Paris, France to pursue a bohemian lifestyle where she could express her homosexuality and write her now published essays. In the Latin Quarter of Paris she would welcome other women into her salon-centric home to read poems and essays, hear concerts, and to overall experience freedom of expression.
With Miriam Schapiro, Chicago co-founded the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts—the first program of its kind—and collaborated on the formative installation Womanhouse (1972). More recently, Chicago has expanded upon her efforts in gender politics, focusing on broader social issues. Her work has been exhibited extensively at venues such as the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the New Museum, the Centre Pompidou, the Whitney Museum, and the Jewish Museum in New York.
Judy Chicago speaks of her work as “trying to infuse women and women’s history with a sense of the sacred and the valuable, because there are all these things associated with women that have been devalued: our bodies, our crafts, our history,” continuing on to say she “tried to bring the same thing to bear on [her] work.”