Judy Chicago – Optical Shapes #5

Artwork Description

Judy Chicago – Optical Shapes #5

Dimensions: 11.25 x 11.25″
Year: 1969
Media: acrylic on matboard

Judy Chicago’s “Optical Shapes #5” is part of a series Chicago created in 1969.

This is the perfect use of the color spectrum relating to themes of complimentary and contrasting colors. In this work, colors create a vibration of unity, yet geometric independence, by means of one spectral sequence residing within a hexagonal shape, while another spectral world is seen as a circular shape. One could interpret this interplay of geometric forms containing the same spectrum as Chicago’s lifelong message that all people, whether men or women, contain the same essential elements of humanity, even though they might express them in different manners, as indicated in the more angular shape that might imply masculinity, while the round form, often associated with the egg, creation, infinity, and the womb, is often associated with women.

-Stephen Buxton

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.

-Tonya Turner Carroll