Artist Judy Chicago Performs Colorful ‘Smoke’ Piece Outside deYoung next week

Feminist artist Judy Chicago is getting a much-anticipated retrospective of her work, now on display at the deYoung Museum through January. And as part of the celebration surrounding the show, Chicago will be bringing one of her performative “smoke” pieces to the Music Concourse on Saturday, October 16.

The exact nature of the piece must be seen the day of. These ephemeral pieces, in which Chicago has used colored smoke and fireworks to create land art and temporary images and experiences, date back to the 1960s, as she explains in the video below. Chicago used deserts and other Southern California landscapes to create her smoke pieces — sometimes called “Atmospheres” — and she says she thought big and wanted to fill the Grand Canyon with smoke, but that never came together.

The last smoke she did in a series was ‘A Butterfly for Oakland’, a series of butterfly-shaped patterned fireworks on the shore of Lake Merritt next to the Oakland Museum of California in 1974.

When the Getty Foundation launched Pacific Standard Time in 2011, it was an opportunity for many in the art world and the wider public to re-acquaint themselves with Chicago’s work—as a California artist who worked continuously throughout the 1970s (the magnitude of the show ended in 1980). And since then, Chicago said, she’s been asked to create new smoke pieces — and the Nevada Art Museum in Reno has acquired the archive of all of Chicago’s dry ice, smoke and fireworks pieces, which are now on display through June next year.

Judy Chicago recreated the butterfly idea with fireworks for a new piece as part of that 2011-12 show at the Pomona College football stadium.

The deYoung piece will be boldly called “Forever de Young,” as KQED tells us. And it will include “a new achievement atop a 27-foot-tall jetty that creates clouds of ephemeral color that are manipulated by the wind.”

Below is an interview with Chicago by deYoung curator Claudia Schmuckli, who is responsible for the current retrospective. And the pair discuss why they chose to essentially hang the show backwards, starting with deYoung’s latest work and going back to the 1960s.

Buy tickets for Judy Chicago: A Retrospective, here, and “Forever de Young” will take place on October 16 at the Music Competition from 5:30 PM. It will also be streamed live on YouTube.

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