Degree Granting Department
Art and Art History
Elisabeth Fraser, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Hirsh, Ph.D.
Margaret Miller, M.A.
Judy Chicago, art exhibition, museum studies, feminist art, essentialism
Rethinking the monumental suggests not only a reconsideration of Judy
Chicago’s controversial installation The
Dinner Party (1979)--
as displayed in the group
feminist art exhibition,
Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in Feminist Art
--but also refers to an unfixing of the monumental position of power afforded the
museum and a re-invigoration of the debate in feminist visual art regarding the use of the
female body. I use the
Sexual Politics exhibition,
curated by Amelia Jones for the
University of California at Los Angeles Armand Hammer Museum and Cultural Center
(1996) as an indicator of the museum as feminist space.
reception by both the feminist community and mainstream critics provokes discussion for
how the exhibition’s contradictions are part of the exhibition’s success.
I uncover that the museum has always been an important factor in the validity of
The Dinner Party.
Nevertheless, neither the curator nor critic (exemplified by the
Christopher Knight’s 1996 review) of
goes far enough to exploit the
museum factor as part of their re-readings of
The Dinner Party
I note that the exhibition backdrop, the contemporary art museum, is
experiencing a crisis in representation in regards to its audience. Guiding institutional
models originally identified by Duncan Cameron (1971) in essay
Museum: Temple or
prove suspect as the museum embarks toward a more self-reflexive sense of
power in the postmodern museum.
Janet Wolff’s essay
serves as a point of departure from
which to explore the action of museum exhibition as the site suitable for corporeal
reinstatement for feminism. Exhibition elements of artwork, audience and environment
act as partners in a metaphoric postmodern dance. This view supposes foreclosure on
the debate of essentialism in regards to the corporeal in the feminist visual arts through
themes and criticisms associated with
The Dinner Party.
Jones sets out in her exhibition
to contribute to the historicization of feminist art. This thesis looks at that initiative and
suggests the museum exhibition, as the medium for this historicization, is an integral
element to the success of the process.
Scholar Commons Citation
Larsen, Devon P., "Rethinking the Monumental: The Museum as Feminist Space in the Sexual Politics Exhibition, 1996" (2006). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.