Becoming Judy Chicago: A Biography of the Artist Hardcover – Feb 27 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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*Starred Review* Judith Cohen, born in Chicago in 1939 to radical activists, legally changed her name to Judy Chicago in 1970 to liberate herself from the conventions of "male dominance" and to celebrate her female identity. This metamorphosis initiated her controversial and profoundly influential feminist art. Levin, author of a groundbreaking Edward Hopper biography, tells Chicago's complex, galvanizing story in conscientious detail without losing narrative drive, providing fresh and invaluable insights into the intense emotional, aesthetic, and political brouhaha provoked by Chicago's female genitalia imagery, grand collaborative projects elevating such traditional women's crafts as china painting and embroidery to fine-art status, and unabashed conviction that art has a moral imperative. Ambitious, outspoken, multitalented, and relentlessly hardworking, Chicago--author of two inspiring memoirs and the veteran of numerous painful relationships complicated by her artistic commitment and reformer's zeal--has had an enormous impact on art and society. Chicago's most infamous work, The Dinner Party,inally has a permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Levin's passionately researched, thoroughly analyzed, and deeply moving portrait-in-full presents Chicago as a courageous, tough, and innovative artist who, as catalyst and lightning rod, has illuminated the human condition. Donna Seaman
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