Jeff Koons has done it. Sol LeWitt has done it. Andy Warhol has certainly done it. All of these artists—and many more—have produced collaborations (either personally or posthumously through an estate) that see their work translated onto plates. But there's no one for whom such a product launch would be a better fit than Judy Chicago. And, at long last, the pioneering feminist artist is translating her seminal work, The Dinner Party, part of the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Museum, to—well, the essentials for a dinner party. As part of a collaboration with Prospect New York, the year-old brand that produces homewares and accessories in partnership with artists (past launches have included Baron von Fancy and Nir Hod), Chicago has adapted four of the plates from her large-scale installation into two-dimensional versions that will be sold in editioned sets. Rounding out the collection are two pillows and a scarf pulled from the banners and table runners in The Dinner Party and a puzzle based on the installation's floor.
Working in tandem, Chicago and Prospect founder Laura Currie pored over images of the three-dimensional plates and richly textured tapestries of The Dinner Party, each of which represents an iconic woman through history, to settle on ones they could reproduce in 2D. "We thought the four we picked—Sappho, Primordial Goddess, Elizabeth R, and Amazon—told a nice story of the range of women," says Currie. The two pillowcases bear the phrases "And Lo They Saw a Vision" and "And She Gathered All Before Her;" the scarf is a riff on Margaret Sanger's runner; and the puzzle depicts Heritage Floor, which comprises bricks bearing the names of other pioneering women.
Though it would be hard to capture the scale, scope, and atmosphere of The Dinner Party in a home—I gasped the first time I saw the installation in person after years of studying feminist art—Chicago hopes that making a piece of the work available more widely will make for some interesting dinner party conversation. AD PRO caught up with the artist to hear more about her foray into tabletop and her thoughts on the state of feminist art.
AD PRO: Why did you want to create reproductions of the plates? And now that they will be in people’s homes, what does it mean to have the work be more widely shared in this way?
Judy Chicago: Over the years, I have noticed that many artists have been commissioned to design and I’ve often wondered why no one has approached me with the idea of reproducing some of The Dinner Party's images! So, I was thrilled when Prospect NY suggested this project. After all, my goal with The Dinner Party was to teach a broad and diverse audience about the richness of women’s heritage—what better way to achieve this than through easily accessible reproductions? Who knows what kinds of conversations these plates might spark around dinner tables at home?
AD PRO: I'd love to hear! Why did you select the motifs you did for reproduction?
JC: I worked closely with Laura to chose the motifs—it was important to both of us that they resonate across generations. We chose Primordial Goddess for the way that she embodies an ineffable cosmic force and creative energy—the ultimate artist. We chose Sappho for our faith in women’s wisdom and a commitment to supporting and educating each other. We chose Amazon for her representation of a communal society and female strength; and Elizabeth R for the possibility of women as rulers of the Western World. Collectively, these four figures embody the overarching concepts behind The Dinner Party.