Born to Jewish radical parents in Chicago in 1939, Judy Cohen grew up to be Judy Chicago—one of the most daring and controversial artists of her generation. Her works, once disparaged and misunderstood by the critics, have become icons of the feminist movement, earning her a place among the most influential artists of her time.
In Becoming Judy Chicago, Gail Levin gives us a biography of uncommon intimacy and depth, revealing the artist as a person and a woman of extraordinary energy and purpose. Drawing upon Chicago’s personal letters and diaries, her published and unpublished writings, and more than 250 new interviews with her friends, family, admirers, and critics, Levin presents a richly detailed and moving chronicle of the artist’s unique journey from obscurity to fame, including the story of how she found her audience outside of the art establishment.
Chicago revolutionized the way we view art made by and for women and fundamentally changed our understanding of women’s contributions to art and to society. Influential and bold, The Dinner Party has become a cultural monument. Becoming Judy Chicago tells the story of a great artist, a leader of the women’s movement, a tireless crusader for equal rights, and a complicated, vital woman who dared to express her own sexuality in her art and demand recognition from a male-dominated culture.
Gail Levin is a biographer, art historian, and curator of landmark exhibitions. She is Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, and Women's Studies at the City University of New York. She is the author of many books, including Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, Lee Krasner: A Biography, and Theresa Bernstein: A Century of Art.
“The factual, insightful, but also miraculous story of a woman who is not only and individual but an energy field; an artist who is not only a creator but an organizer of communal creation. Without downplaying the pain and censure that come with enlarging history by refusing to fit into it, Levin shows us the joy and permanence of Chicago’s inclusive art that opens eyes, minds, and hearts.”—Gloria Steinem
“A vivid and compelling biography of Judy Chicago, as well as a colorful narrative of the artist’s struggles to create a feminist art and to transform the lives of women artists in a art world hostile to their endeavors. A superb critical study of Judy Chicago’s art.”—Arthur C. Danto, art critic, The Nation
“Gracefully written and prodigiously researched, this is a fascinating and important contribution.”—Joyce Antler, author of The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America
“A fascinating confluence of biography and cultural history inspired by personal aspiration, radical politics, avant-garde art, and the women’s movement. Rich in new research and insights, Levin’s work is a valued and much overdue addition to the literature on Judy Chicago.”—Susan Fisher Sterling, Director, National Museum of Women in the Arts
“A landmark work . . . painstakingly detailed, psychologically sophisticated, that constitutes a fair-minded—and therefore explosive—guide to the art world, including the relationship among wealth, patronage, and artistic success and viability.”—Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D., author of Women and Madness