Skies Fill With Crowd-Pleasing Smoke in San Francisco, Thanks to Artist Judy Chicago

  • October 17, 2021 18:25

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Screenshot. 'Forever De Young' by Judy Chicago, Oct. 16, 2021.
Judy Chicago (b. 1939), "Immolation", from the series "Women and Smoke", 1972. Fireworks performance; performed in California desert. Courtesy of the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco. © Judy Chicago / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph courtesy of Through the Flower Archives

In conjunction with Judy Chicago's popular retrospective (through January 9, 2022) at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the pioneering feminist artist launched a spectacular smoky rainbow display over Golden Gate Park on Saturday.

Forever de Young, Chicago's complex, multicolored performance, was delivered from a 27-foot-high scaffold directly in front of the de Young, drifting above the city's park. The free public performance, the largest staged by Chicago, lasted about 15 minutes and employed non-toxic pigments that mixed with wind and light to create varying effects. 

Judy Chicago in collaboration with Pyro Spectaculars by Souza Diamonds in the Sky detail, 2021, Fireworks performance, Belen, NM © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, New York, Image provided courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

On Instagram (with a video of the performance), Chicago noted that "we presented 'Forever De Young' to a cheering crowd of thousands in the park with thousands more around the world watching via livestream. It was an incredibly overwhelming experience to see the power of art demonstrated so vividly."

Conceptually this work harks back to Chicago’s innovative Atmospheres, a series of performances staged in California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Distinguished by their controlled choreography and distinct reformulation of land art, these live sculptures nonetheless escaped the annals of art history for decades. In the early 2000s, a new generation of scholars surfaced and celebrated these works as feminist responses to the Light and Space movement and situated them in the context of late 1960s Conceptualism.

These unobtrusive and ephemeral environments—which opposed the permanent interventions into and transformation of landscape by her male peers—were finally understood as a form of sustainable earth art that freed color from the rigid structures of painting and sculpture and allowed it to gush into the air as orchestrated clouds of chroma. Since her early explorations, Chicago has greatly expanded the artistic vision that underlies these works in order to “mix color in the air,” an extension of her longtime interest in the emotive capacity of color.

Read more at Mercury News

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