Judy Chicago: Atmospheres

November 18th, 2018 - March 2nd, 2019

Nina  Johnson is  pleased  to  present an exhibition of never before seen photo prints documenting Judy Chicago’s Atmospheres series—the legendary artist’s early landscape installations and performances, distinctly feminist works staged between 1968-1974, and again, on a larger scale, beginning in 2012. Atmospheres will open November 18, 2018, and will remain on view concurrent to The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami’s major survey exhibition, Judy Chicago: A Reckoning, opening December 4, 2018. Atmospheres is presented in collaboration with Salon 94, New York.  

The pyrotechnic Atmospheres series began in 1968, when Chicago lined an unsuspecting Pasadena Street with billowing fog machines, an action that was meant to radically feminize an urban space, cloud its use value, and soften its hard man-made edges. The series evolved over the next decade as a protest against the male-dominated art scene of the 1970s, where the land artists were almost entirely men. Chicago began to experiment with fireworks and dry ice, using colored smokes in a range of shades, and staging her events in popular areas with heavy foot traffic including malls, colleges and art museums, along with empty landscapes like beaches, deserts, and forests. The artist once joked that she pretended to light the Pasadena Art Museum, which housed more work by men than women, on fire. Eventually she began to combine women and smoke, painting the performers to match the colors of the smoke. In 2012, the scope of her projects doubled, with the help of new funding that she had been unable to receive early in her career. The artist began staging larger and more elaborate firework and flare displays, creating more representational images, sometimes configured as butterflies; a transient creature with feminine mystique.

Chicago played with the inherent density of smoke as a way to disrupt what the eye can see, as well as to soften and inject beauty into the landscape. On display at Nina Johnson will be a series of twelve photographs documenting these delicate and beautiful performances, along with one related video work. 

This important photographic exhibition—that is at once a documentary project and an art installation—is staged to coincide with Judy Chicago: A Reckoning, a major survey of works exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, by the pioneering feminist artist that highlights Chicago’s iconographic transition from abstraction to figuration, and explores the ways in which the artist’s strong feminist voice transforms our understanding of modernism and its traditions. Judy Chicago will also present a new, site-specific fireworks performance at the ICA Miami on February 23, 2019. Please contact the museum directly for more details. 

About Judy Chicago  

Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans almost six decades. Her art has been frequently exhibited in the United States and internationally, and her fourteen published books have brought her art and philosophy to readers around the world. Chicago pioneered Feminist Art and art education in the early 1970s, through unique programs for women at California State University-Fresno and later (with Miriam Schapiro) at the California Institute of the Arts. Demonstrating an openly female point of view through collaborative art, Chicago helped to initiate a worldwide Feminist Art movement. She created The Dinner Party, described in the recent 7th edition of Janson and Janson’s Basic History of Western Art as “a powerful icon for women’s liberation and independence,” in the mid to late 1970s with assistance from hundreds of volunteers, including both men and women. Chicago is the recipient of numerous grants, awards and honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities; and her work is in the collections of numerous museums, including: The British Museum, Tate Modern, Brooklyn Museum, Getty Trust, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, National Gallery, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 



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  • Smoke Bodies, 1972; from Women and Smoke, 2018. Archival pigment print. 36 x 36 in.
  • Immolation, 1972; from Women and Smoke, 2018. Archival pigment print. 36 x 36 in.
  • Atmospheres installation view
  • Smoke Holes #2, 1969, 2018. Archival pigment print. 36 x 36 in.
  • Atmospheres installation view.
  • Pink Atmosphere, 1971, Cal State Fullerton, Fullerton, CA, 2018. Archival pigment print. 30 x 40 in.
  • Atmospheres installation view.