Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party”: Feminist History in Art

I found the viewing The Dinner Party to be very illuminating. As I entered the triangular room, I noticed how the triangular shape was repeated multiple times whether by intention or mere coincidence. The lights were reflected in triangles and the room was also shaped in a triangle. The table, of course, was in the shape of a triangle, and there were thirteen seats on each side to resemble the idea of the Last Supper.

Each side of the table represented a time line in women’s history. The first side started with early human civilizations and then the second side which continued through time through the Roman Empire and finally the last side reflected modernity. The plates represented powerful women and as the timeline progressed the plates became more three-dimensional. The more three-dimensional plates showed how the women they represented had pushed against society oppressing them. The images on all the plates were vaginal images. The reason for this is to powerfully and proudly show a part of a women’s body that is usually frowned upon and considered sinful. As each side of the table progresses in time, the vaginal images on the plates become more ornate and three-dimensional. The plates become more ornate to show the interweaving and intersecting of more and more ideas that each women fought for.

I found it interesting how written in gold there were the names of women who had partaken in doing something memorable and defiant. The names are also written below the plate of a woman that was alive during their time. When I looked for the woman who I researched, which was Georgia O’Keeffe, I noticed that she was the last plate. This means that her plate was also the most ornate and as well as the most prominent. The artwork on her plate was so ornate with swirling flowers and leaves. The color of her plate was a murky and subdued purple that faded into blue, green, and pink. The use of color, and the engravings of flowers and leaves pay tribute to O’Keeffe’s painting style, as well as her muse, which was nature.

It makes sense that O’Keeffe’s plate is the largest and most prominent because her paintings were considered very sensual. However, it is also interesting because for a while as an artist she denied that her paintings were vaginal. She said that her flower pictures were just flower pictures. This in itself provides some controversy with having a plate for O’Keeffe. As I was looking at her plate, I also noticed that her place setting was also the same slightly monotone and subdued purple color as was her plate. The edges of the place matt were frayed showing how she did not come from wealth and instead was very close to her slightly poor lifestyle in New Mexico. At the bottom of her place setting there is a part of a wood canvas binding; this, of course, shows that her contribution to the world was her paintings.

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