Judy Chicago: What if Women Ruled the World

MAD54 takes you to see the monumental velvet banners Judy Chicago designed for the Dior Spring / Summer 2020 couture show. For the first time, the installation travels to the US and will be on view at Jeffrey Deitch's gallery in New York City until December 19th, 2020.

Entering the massive garage-like space at Deitch's Soho location, we are greeted by 11 brocade, appliqué banners that hang off the ceiling, symmetrically placed on each side of one larger central banner: “What if women ruled the world?”

Dior's first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, is known to collaborate with artists who embody feminist ideologies. It is therefore no surprise that she would ask the utmost feminist artist Judy Chicago to work on a collaboration for the French couture house.

Chicago took the runway at the Rodin Museum in Paris last January as her stage to challenge spectators with the following questions:

"What if Women Ruled the World?"

“Would god be female?”

“Would men and women be equal?”

“Would both men and women be gentle?”

“Would both men and women be strong?”

“Would there be equal parenting?”

“Would earth be protected?”

“Would there be violence?”

“Would there be private property?”

“Would buildings resemble wombs?”

“Would old women be revered?”

All these questions are embroidered in a particular cursive "font" - Chicago's handwriting. There is an undeniable sense of softness and femininity in the curves of the letters and this isn't be the first time Chicago uses her own handwriting (or banners) in her work.

In "The Dinner Party", one of Chicago's most iconic contributions to the art world, we observe her handwriting on the entryway banners, the 39 plate settings and the 999 names of remarkable women written on the "Heritage Floor".

The hand-made velvet banners were embroidered by students from the Chanakya School of Craft in Mumbai where women learn artisanal techniques that have been traditionally practiced only by men.

Chicago's hand-sketched designs in addition to 3 Lady Dior handbags inspired by the artist's artwork are also on display at 18 Wooster Street.

Each handbag is inspired by one of Chicago's works from the early 70s where the artist made use of soft lines and vibrant colors, spraying acrylic paint on canvas. The smallest and largest "Lady Dior" handbags are inspired by Chicago's "Great Ladies" series, "Christine Of Sweden" & "Queen Elizabeth" respectively. The medium sized bag was inspired by "Let It All Hang Out". Each handbag has the name of the work it was inspired by at the bottom, printed in Chicago's iconic handwriting.

Christine of Sweden, Let It All Hang Out and Queen Victoria from left to right

If you are in New York, don't miss out on the chance to see the show in its final week at Jeffrey Deitch's 18 Wooster Street location.