Beginning in 1968, artist Judy Chicago embarked on a series of ephemeral Atmospheres performances in the deserts of the American West, using colored smoke and fireworks to “soften that macho Land Art scene.” Long overlooked by art historians and scholars, Chicago’s Atmospheres series can now be viewed as one of the most noteworthy responses to the monumental landscape interventions of artists such as Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson, effected at virtually the same moment. With Chicago continuing this vein into the present, working with a pyrotechnic team including sixth-generation Pyro Spectaculars member Chris Souza and her photographer husband Donald Woodman, the series now stands as a long-running tradition within her body of work.
In 2018, the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment was proud to acquire Judy Chicago’s Fireworks archive. In celebration of a half century of the artist’s evanescent environmental work, the Museum is now presenting a rich selection of these acquisitions in the exhibition Judy Chicago: Dry Ice, Smoke, and Fireworks Archive, on view from August 28, 2021 through March 27, 2022.
The exhibition is one of five at the Museum during its 2021 Art + Environment Season, Land Art: Past, Present, Futures, which also encompasses virtual discussions and talks by 23 distinguished speakers (September 23 through November 19), a live outdoor “transformance” in Las Vegas by Rose B. Simpson, and publication by the Museum and Monacelli of a 256-page, lavishly illustrated book, Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs. On October 21, Judy Chicago will be at the Museum for a discussion with Las Vegas-based art historian and independent curator Chad Alligood, formerly of the Huntington Library and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The presentation will be conducted both in-person and live-streamed.
“This is a banner year for Judy Chicago, with her autobiography The Flowering being published on July 20 to mark her 82nd birthday and a retrospective of her work opening at the de Young Museum in San Francisco on August 28,” David B. Walker, CEO of the Nevada Museum of Art, said. “We’re proud to join in the tributes to this truly pathbreaking artist by delving deeply into a key series of her work, presented in the context of our broader, critical exploration of the multiple histories and possibilities of Land Art.”
The exhibition will present more than 175 vintage photographs of Judy Chicago’s performances and events, from Dry Ice Environment (Los Angeles, 1967) and Smoke Gun Atmosphere (Pasadena, 1968) to Be No More (SFMOMA, 2017), A Purple Poem for Miami (ICA Miami, 2019), and A Birthday Bouquet for Belen—On Fire at 80 (Belen, NM, 2019). Other materials on view will include preparatory drawings and plans, models, video compilations, press documentation, and fireworks test information.
Other exhibitions in the Art + Environment Season are Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs (through January 2, 2022), Land Art: Expanding the Atlas (through January 2, 2022), Disturbances in the Field: Art in the High Desert from Andrea Zittel’s A-Z West to High Desert Test Sites (through February 6, 2022), and Rose B. Simpson: The Four (through April 3, 2022).
About Judy Chicago
With an illustrious career that now spans six decades, Judy Chicago is a multifaceted feminist artist, activist, intellectual, author, and educator. She has written a K-12 curriculum for her epoch-making installation The Dinner Party, received five honorary doctoral degrees, shown her work all over the world, and collaborated with such legendary colleagues as Anaïs Nin, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist to change the world with her art.
Chicago’s multidisciplinary practice has always pushed the boundaries of technology and expanded the possibilities of subject matter and materials. Recognized for her many achievements, Chicago will be one of this year’s inductees into the National Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, New York—the site of the first women’s rights convention, in 1848.
About the Art + Environment Season
Organized under the auspices of the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment, Land Art: Past, Present, Futures will be presented from September 23 through November 19, 2021, offering multiple new opportunities for a global community of artists, scholars, writers, designers, and art enthusiasts to look at, talk about, and reflect upon our interaction with the natural world and the built environment. In the years since its first presentation in 2008, the A + E Conference has won international recognition as the premier event in its field, held in the state whose terrain has inspired historic and contemporary Land Art interventions from the early monumental works of Michael Heizer and Walter De Maria to the recent sculptures of Ugo Rondinone. The Conference has consistently sparked new scholarship, provoked fresh thinking, and helped forge productive partnerships. For more on the season and to subscribe, visit: nevadaart.org/conference2021.
About Nevada Museum of Art
The Nevada Museum of Art is the only art museum in Nevada accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). A private, nonprofit organization founded in 1931, the statewide institution is supported by its membership as well as sponsorships, gifts and grants. Through its permanent collections, original exhibitions and programming, and E.L. Cord Museum School, the Nevada Museum of Art provides meaningful opportunities for people to engage with a range of art and education experiences. Learn more at nevadaart.org.
The Nevada Museum of Art is located in the Great Basin on the occupied territories of Indigenous people. The state of Nevada consists of 27 federally recognized tribes from four nations: the Numu (Northern Paiute), Newe (Western Shoshone), Wa She Shu (Washoe), and Nuwu (Southern Paiute).