GREAT LADIES

Louise Bourgeois, Sonia Boyce, Judy Chicago, Rachel Howard, Louise Lawler, Cornelia Parker, Bridget Riley, Cindy Sherman

GREAT LADIES

Selling Exhibition

17 November – 23 December 2020

Louise Bourgeois, Sonia Boyce, Judy Chicago, Rachel Howard, Louise Lawler, Cornelia Parker, Bridget Riley, Cindy Sherman

897b Brunswick St, 4005 New Farm
Tue – Sat 10am – 6pm

Freely translated from the French grandes dames, ‘Great Ladies’ is the title of an important body of work that pioneering feminist artist Judy Chicago produced in the early 1970s. In these abstract paintings, she explored important female figures who had been marginalised in historical accounts because of their gender. Her extensive research into the subject culminated in her now iconic The Dinner Party (1974-79) – a majestic installation dedicated to a total of 999 women most of whom are still under-represented in mainstream history. Judy Chicago’s masterpiece, as indeed all her previous work, was met with fierce resistance from predominantly male critics, and only managed to tour the world because of the artist’s creative funding efforts. When The Dinner Party made its way to Australia in 1988, it was exhibited at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne rather than the National Gallery of Victoria, as local organisers were reluctant to recognise it as a work of art.

Just as the subjects of Judy Chicago’s work had been written out of mainstream historical narratives, so she herself, along with most of her female contemporaries, has struggled to gain levels of recognition similar to her male counterparts. Only in recent years has the marginalisation of female artists been recognised more consistently, and at the age of 80 years old, Judy Chicago was finally awarded the honour of a retrospective exhibition in 2020 – and parachuted into the mainstream when asked to design the much acclaimed set for Dior during Paris Fashion week in January 2020 (which was set inside the womb of an female deity).

The inaugural ‘Great Ladies’ exhibition at ILEANA brings together some of the grandes dames of European and American contemporary art. Although an exhibition of this modest size cannot do justice to the huge number of important female contemporary artists, it aims to highlight the variety in the historical reception of women artists. Some have had success early on – Bridget Riley, for instance, was well-regarded internationally in the 1960s (and had five exhibitions in Australia in the 1970s). Similarly, Cindy Sherman’s series of Untitled Film Stills(1979) were acquired by the National Gallery of Australia as early as 1983. 

But they are relatively rare cases, and the story of an artist such as Sonia Boyce is sadly much more common – the title of a 2018 documentary on her work by BBC Four sums it up: Whoever Heard of a Black Artist? Britain’s Hidden Art History. After four decades of work, she was still a marginal figure in British art history when the British Council announced that she will represent the United Kingdom at the Venice Biennale in 2021. 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled (Self Portrait with Sun Tan), 2003
chromogenic print
image: 65.4 by 40 cm.
Edition number 228 of 350.

Bridget Riley - Going Across (2001)

Bridget Riley
Going Across, 2001
colour silkscreen on paper
image: 42 by 73 cm.
Edition number 49 of 90.

Judy Chicago
Mary, Queen of Scots, 1973
lithograph on paper
image: 50.8 by 50.8 cm.
Edition number 6 of 40.

Louise Bourgeois - The Ainu Tree (1999)

Louise Bourgeois
The Ainu Tree, 1999
five-colour lithograph on paper
image: 58.3 by 38.3 cm.  
Artist’s proof aside from the edition of 100.

Sonia Boyce - I'm With Her too (2019)

Sonia Boyce
I’m With Her Too, 2019
digital print and silkscreen on paper
sheet: 38 by 50 cm.
Edition of 45.

Rachel Howard
Untitled (Inside Out Series), 2002
c-print, in artist’s frame
image: 30.5 by 20 cm.  

Louise Lawler
A Spot on the Wall, 1989-98
cibachrome print
12.8 by 18 cm.
Edition number 50 of 55.

Cornelia Parker
Pornographic Drawing, 2000
lithograph on paper
sheet: 45.4 by 41.6 cm.
Edition number 13 of 200.

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