Car Hoods: Judy Chicago

Researching Judy Chicago is like stepping into a room with 5 doors in it, behind each door a different; skill, struggle, controversy, and barrier stretched and broken.

I’m taken by Chicago for the techniques she used and owned, her approach to colour and shape and her perseverance and audaciousness. In particular the Car Hood series, started in 1965 and completed in 2011.


Car Hoods Sketch ‘Mother Superette’ shown at ‘Star C*nts and Other Attractions’, 2015, Riflemakers Gallery.

Having learnt to spray-paint cars in the early 60s, said to have been inspired by her professor Billy Al Bengston, Chicago put her new found skills to work and combined them with bold, geometric patterns representative of predominantly female, and male genitalia. Much to the dislike of her professors who felt there was no place for this or reproductive organs within the art world.


Judy Chicago,  Birth Hood, Bigamy Hood, 1965-2011, Sprayed acrylic on carhood

Judy Chicago was one of the pioneers of the feminist art movement in the 1970s, having also created an all female art school, ArtsCal with artist Miriam Schiapiro. She was also involved with the Ferus Gallery, lead by the Ferus Gang, one of which was her professor Billy Al Bengston. Although it would seem this was merely a starting point for her.


Mesquite Western Series (1969) Lacquer and Polyester Resin on Aluminum, 23” x 22”

‘The Dinner Party’, which although is from the 70s is the most well know piece, in part for the controversy that surrounded the first exhibition, and subsequent grass routes organisations that kept the exhibition in the limelight travelling internationally. Judy Chicago put the female at the forefront, and continues to do so today. She challenges the inclusivity of the female in a male dominated art world. Highlighting women in history that have been censored, left behind, and averted through a culture of male self importance, and underserved superiority.


Really Sad/Power Mad from PowerPlay, 1986, Prismacolour and pastel on paper


Interesting reads and videos about Judy Chicago

Womanhouse Documentary

‘Is It still a man’s world’ Getty blog

‘Looking under Judy Chicago’s Car Hood’ Getty blog

‘Star C*nts and Other Attractions’ exhibition review

’40 Fenders and Dada in Rearview Mirror’ – NY Times article on Art Cars




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