In 1990, the U.S. Senate threatened to withhold funding for the University of the District of Columbia. At issue was a donation to the school—a sculpture called The Dinner Party that the artist Judy Chicago had submitted herself. Representative Robert Dornan called the work “3-D pornography.” The piece consisted of a massive triangular table inscribed with the names of 999 women, from goddesses like Ishtar to painters such as Georgia O’Keeffe. The table held 39 place settings, and each 14-inch china plate, originally meant to be decorated with floral patterns, had bloomed into an abstract representation of female genitalia. Chicago was forced to rescind the donation. The work nonetheless speaks to her legacy as an activist artist. Chicago’s first virtual show is a continuation of “Atmospheres,” a series of works that use dazzling, and dangerous, pyrotechnic configurations. At 81 years old, she still plays with fire. —C.J.F.
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