Becoming Judy Chicago : a biography of the artist /

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Main Author: Levin, Gail, 1948-
Format: Book
Published:New York : Harmony Books, c2007.
Edition:1st ed.
Online Access:Table of contents only 
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

With Judy Chicago, Levin (Edward Hopper) takes on a subject who has spent most of her career fighting for her place in a male-dominated and masculinized art world. As the title suggests, the book shows how the daughter of a radical Jewish Communist became the power behind The Dinner Party (1979), a work that forces women's history forward on women's terms, expressed through craft and female imagery. Often described as outspoken, confrontational, strong willed and difficult by even her closest colleagues and friends, Chicago carved a path for other women artists. She demanded that her students-all female-live and create a radically new and feminist movement in the arts. Levin captures Chicago's struggle with her emerging feminism in the context of her marriages, her art and her role as teacher and collaborator. Levin handles the complexity of Chicago's relationships with both men and women deftly, in a manner that exemplifies the issues many women have gone through as they attempted to stake their claim in a man's world. Although not an authorized biography, this was written with Chicago's aid. Hagiographic at times and sometimes burdened by its living and larger-than-life subject, the book is an enlightening look at this controversial artist and at feminist art in general. 16 pages of color photos, 15 b&w photos. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An engrossing, vivid study of the life and work of one of America's most important feminist artists. Levin (Art/Baruch Coll. and The Graduate Center, CUNY; Edward Hooper: An Intimate Biography, 2005, etc.) turns her attention to Judy Chicago (born in 1939), tracing Chicago's early interest in art, exploring her psychological reaction to her father's early death and chronicling her first brief marriage. The artist's commitment to feminism was forged in that marriage: Long before it was fashionable, Chicago insisted that spouses share housework, once exclaiming to her husband, "What makes you think that because, by a biological accident, I was born with a cunt, I am supposed to pick up your socks?" Those feminist convictions soon found expression in her work. Her first major work of feminist art was her 1972 Womanhouse, a multimedia installation that explored the ways in which women have been oppressed by domestic expectations. The author strikes just the right balance between Chicago's oeuvre and her life, offering frank discussion of Chicago's complex second marriage, careful attention to Chicago's relationship with Judaism and a thoughtful examination of Chicago's feminist pedagogy. But the most arresting section is devoted to Chicago's masterpiece, The Dinner Party. Levin captures what an artistic challenge The Dinner Party posed for her subject, and spells out the personal and financial sacrifices she made in order to complete the massive work. Though this is not an authorized biography, Chicago was cooperative and generous with Levin, who seems to have unfettered access not only to Chicago's papers, but to dozens and dozens of people she knew and worked with, including ex-lovers, students, relatives and friends. The book is marred only by Levin's slightly stilted prose. A gift for those interested in the history of American art and the history of feminism. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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