Nancy Spero - Untitled (detail), Image via rachel-and-yoga.blogspot.com

Nancy Spero/ Nancy Spero

United States 1926 - 2009

Installation, Painting, Collage, Printmaking

Nancy Spero
Nancy Spero
Female
United States
1926

Does the artist have ethical and political responsibilities in this world of cruelty and so much suffering? During entire career, Nancy Spero was devoted to the search for an answer to this question, struggling with the brutality of human race. As a pioneer of feminist art, her work was directed against the abuse of power, Western privilege, and male dominance, processing the subject matter from both current and past events, as the oppression of Jews and the Holocaust, the torture of women in Nicaragua or horrors of the Vietnam war. Spero’s enormous courage and great imagination moved across painting, collage, printmaking and installations, creating a distinctive piece of art that she once called a “peinture feminine”.

Nancy Spero, Maypole - Take No Prisoners II, 2008, Image via criticismcom lelong home museum galerie american terms new york gallery contact arts search
Nancy Spero – Maypole – Take No Prisoners II, 2008, Image via criticism.com

Early Career and Marriage with Leon Golub

Spero was born in 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio, but she grew up in Chicago, where she graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Continuing her education in Paris, she studied painting at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts and at Atelier of Andre Lhote, early Cubist painter, and critic. In 1950, Spero returned to the United States and married Leon Golub, a fellow artist from Chicago school of art. Finding European society and atmosphere more varied and inclusive to artists, the couple lived in Italy, and later in Paris, creating and bringing up their three children. Inspired by Etruscan and Roman frescoes and sarcophagi, her style was the closest to Abstract Expressionism. During her Paris years (1959-1964) she worked on series of Black Paintings, depicting androgynous figures and scrawled text fragments incorporated into the themes of mothers and children, lovers and prostitutes.

Nancy Spero lived in Paris where she created series of Black paintings

Nancy Spero - Black Painting, Image via renaissancesocietyorg lelong home museum galerie american terms new york gallery contact arts search galerie paper
Nancy Spero – Black Painting, Image via renaissancesociety.org

New York as the Final Residence

In 1964, they returned to the United States, in New York where she remained for the rest of her life. Deeply affected by the violence and atrocities of the Vietnam war, Spero began her War Series (1966-1970). Abandoning the oil on canvas, she chose gouache and ink on paper that allowed her to create more rapidly, making the “angry works, often scatological, manifestos against a senseless obscene war; a war my sons could have been called up for, though they were very young. These works were exorcisms to keep the war away.” One hundred and fifty pieces depict horrors of war – bombs, serpents, fire, swastikas, atomic mushroom clouds, and among them, the most characteristic is anthropomorphic helicopters as the birds that destroy from above.

As one of the first feminist, Spero was active in several movements, as Art Workers Coalition, Women Artist in Revolution and even was a founding member of the first women-only cooperative gallery, A.I.R. (Artists in Residence). From 1971 to 1972, she was committed to her series of scroll works named Codex Artaud, distinctive collages that use juxtapositions of text and image with the horizontal and linear partition of elements that recall hieroglyphics, showing the parts of text taken from Antonin Artaud’s writings. The sum of her activism and female artists’ empowerment, found its expression in Spero’s encyclopedic work Notes in Time on Women (1979). On the 210-foot-lons scroll, she was charting the female status throughout history, representing figures of different women who move among quotations about misogyny in the canon of male European philosophers.

Spero was among the first feminist artists

Nancy Spero - Clown and Helicopter, 1967, Image via museoreinasofiaes home galerie paper
Nancy Spero – Clown and Helicopter, 1967, Image via museoreinasofia.es

Feminist and Pacifist for the Rest of Her Life

From the 1980’s onward, she continued to make a powerful influence on the younger generations of artists, constantly working with the strong sense of hope, despite problems with health during the last years of her life. Nancy Spero died of heart failure in New York on October 18, 2009. Never utopian, her work varied in mood from lacerating and shocking to playful and comical. Her figures co-exist in nonhierarchical compositions on monumental scrolls, visually reinforcing principles of equality and tolerance. Throughout her entire career, Spero performed from the radical pacifist and feminist position, highly dedicated to her political, social and cultural convictions, constantly asking the questions and challenging injustice and violence.

Featured image: Nancy Spero – Untitled (detail), Image via rachel-and-yoga.blogspot.com

YearExhibition titleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Monster Roster: Existentialist Art In Postwar Chicago The University of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2016Walk the Line: drawing throught in contemporary art Bernal Espacio Galería, MadridGroup
2016Art from Elsewhere International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries Towner, EastbourneGroup
2015Painting 2.0: Malerei Im Informationszeitalter Museum Brandhorst, MunichGroup
2015Trio Galerie Lelong, ParisGroup
2015Donation Florence & Daniel Guerlain. Centre Pompidou, Paris Nordiska Akvarellmuseet,SkarhamnGroup
2015Love Affair With Graphics. From Albers To Vostell National Museum in Cracow, KrakowGroup
2015Women's Work: Feminist Art from the Collection Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MAGroup
2015Art from Elsewhere Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art Group
2015Revue 25 Christine König Galerie, ViennaGroup
2015Remembering the Vietnam War The William Benton Museum of Art, Storrs, CTGroup
2015Normal Love Barbara Gross Galerie, MunichGroup
2014What's In and What's Not Anthony Reynolds Gallery, LondonGroup
2014Artevida (Política) MAM, Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJGroup
2014The Shape of Things Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2014Civilization Anthony Reynolds Gallery, LondonGroup
2014Draw Me A Sheep Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, ParisGroup
2014L’Heure Des Sorcières Centre d’art contemporain de Quimper, le Quartier, QuimperGroup
2014Nancy Spero, The Body International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC), LjubljanaSolo
2013AMERICANA Perez Art Museum Miami, MiamiGroup
2013Macho Man, Tell It To My Heart: Collected by Julie Ault Artists Space, New York City, NYGroup
2013Etwas Eigenes. 25 Jahre Barbara Gross Galerie Barbara Gross Galerie, MunichGroup
20131813. Asedio, incendio y reconstrucción de San Sebastián Museo San Telmo, San SebastiánGroup
2013Sweet Home Häusler Contemporary, MunichGroup
2013Memphis Social Apexart, New York City, NYGroup
2013Salon du Dessin 2013 Galerie de France, ParisGroup
2013Tell it to my heart: Collected by Julie Ault Kunstmuseum Basel, BaselGroup
2013Feminist Art Then And Now Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2013Nancy Spero: Towards Liberation VCUarts Anderson Gallery, Richmond, VASolo
2013Nancy Spero: Cri du Coeur Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MASolo
2013From Victimage to Liberation: Works from the 1980s & 1990s Galerie Lelong, New York, New York City, NY Solo
2012The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,Philadelphia, PAGroup
2012Feminage: The Logic of Feminist Collage The Cross Art Projects , Sydney, NSWGroup
2012Die Frau in der Pop Art im Echo anderer Stilrichtungen QuadrART Dornbirn, DornbirnGroup
2012Twisted Sisters DODGEgallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Restless Adelaide International Gallery 13Group
2012Adelaide International 2012: Restless The Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide, SAGroup
2012Spirits Of Internationalism MuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, AntwerpGroup
2011Body Gesture Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, ORGroup
2011Neue Künstlerinnenräume K21 Ständehaus, DusseldorfGroup
2011Leon Golub, Nancy Spero Galeria Pilar Serra (former Estiarte), MadridGroup
2011Heroines Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, MadridGroup
2011Pictures of the Body Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2011New Inventory Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2011Nancy Spero Serpentine Gallery, LondonSolo
2011Nancy Spero: Works Of The 1980s Barbara Gross Galerie, MunichSolo
2010L'image et le mot Galerie Chantal Bamberger, StrasbourgGroup
2010Love in Vein: Editions Fawbush projects & artists 2005-2010 Gering & López Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010The right to protest Museum on the Seam, JerusalemGroup
2010Woman in motion Galerie Lelong, Paris, ParisSolo
2010Nancy Spero, Centre Pompidou Musée National d´Art Moderne, ParisSolo
2009(Des)Accords Communs FRAC Haute Normandie, Sotteville lès RouenGroup
2009Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed Matter MoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
2009Kiki Smith, Nancy Spero, Nalini Malani Galeria Pilar Serra (former Estiarte), MadridGroup
2009MESSIAHS MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, DebrecenGroup
2009LEARN TO READ ART: A History of Printed Matter Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe Group
2009Rebelle Kunst & Feminisme 1969 - 2009 Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem Group
2009Blue Studio Stefania Miscetti, RomeSolo
2009Nancy Spero, Woman as Protagonist Museum der Moderne Salzburg Mönchsberg, SalzburgSolo
2009Nancy Spero, Un Coup de Dent Galerie Lelong, New YorkSolo
2009Nancy Spero. Disidanzas Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC), SevillaSolo
2008Alex Rosenberg: Collector and Patron Center for the arts, Reading, PAGroup
2008Under the Influence Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, CAGroup
2008Reflections Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2008Anatomie | les peaux du dessin, collection Florence et Daniel Guerlain FRAC Picardie,AmiensGroup
2008Nancy Spero. Dissidances Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, MadridSolo
2008Nancy Spero Anthony Reynolds Gallery, LondonSolo
2008Nancy Spero. Disidanzas Museu d´Art Contemporani de Barcelona Solo
2008Nancy Spero, Spero Speaks de Appel Boys' School, AmsterdamSolo
2007Unmonumental: The Object In The 21st Century New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NYGroup
2007Gehen bleiben Kunstmuseum Bonn, BonnGroup
2007Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
2007Nancy Spero – FRAC, HauteNormandie, Sotteville lès RouenSolo
2007Nancy Spero Galerie Lelong Solo
2006Twice Drawn The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College,Saratoga Springs, NYGroup
2006Newark Between Us Newark Arts Council, Newark, NJGroup
2006femme brut(e) Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CTGroup
2006Nancy Spero Franco Soffiantino Gallery, TurinSolo
2005Looking at Words Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2005Drawn to Cleveland MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Cleveland, OHGroup
2005Atomica LombardFreid Projects, New York City, NYGroup
2005(my private) Heroes MARTa Herford, HerfordGroup
2005Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Nancy Spero Galeria Pilar Serra (former Estiarte), MadridGroup
2005Toward the Future Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, HiroshimaGroup
2005Magnolia Editions: Tapestries JayJay, Sacramento, CAGroup
2005Nancy Spero, Cri du Coeur Galerie Lelong Solo
2005Tattoo Overtones, Los Angeles, CASolo
2005Nancy Spero Crown Gallery, BrusselsSolo
2004The Print Show Exit Art, New York City, NYGroup
2004Paula's Home Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, LinzGroup
2004Walk Ways Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BCGroup
2004Pour les oiseaux FRAC, Pays de la Loire, CarquefouGroup
2004Collage Bloomberg Space, LondonGroup
2004Lodz Biennale 2004 Lodz Biennale, LodzGroup
2004Esprit Galerie Nathalie Obadia, ParisGroup
2004Nancy Spero Galerie Lelong, Paris, ParisSolo
2003Nancy Spero and Kiki Smith BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, GatesheadGroup
2003Wings of Art, Motiv Flugzeug Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, AachenGroup
2003Walk Ways University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FLGroup
2003Das Recht des Bildes Kunstmuseum Bochum, BochumGroup
2003Wings of Art, Motiv Flugzeug Kunsthalle Darmstadt, DarmstadtGroup
2003H2O University of Denver, Denver, COGroup
2003Nancy Spero Galerie Lelong , New York, New York City, NY Solo
2002Leon Golub, Nancy Spero Barbara Gross Galerie, MunichGroup
2002The Human Factor: Figuration in American Art 1950-1995 Wichita State University, Wichita, KSGroup
2002Gloria, another look at feminist art in the 1970s White Columns, New York City, NYGroup
2002Goddess Galerie Lelong, New York, New York City, NY Group
2002True Grit, Seven Female Visionaries Before Feminism Boise Art Museum BAM, Boise, IDGroup
2002Nancy Spero, A continuous present Kunsthalle zu Kiel, KielSolo
2002Nancy Spero Galerie Lelong, New York, New York City, NY Solo
2001Let´s talk about sex Kunsthaus Dresden, DresdenGroup
2001ARS 01 Unfolding Perspectives, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, HelsinkiGroup
200149th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale Biennale di Venezia Group
2001Look Out PM Gallery & House, LondonGroup
2001L’image parlée, The Spoken Image Université du Québec à Montréal, Université du Qué,Montreal, QCSolo
2001Nancy Spero Barbara Gross Galerie, MunichSolo
2001Sheela Does Ramapo Ramapo College Art Galleries, Mahwah, NJSolo
2000Walking University Galleries at Illinois State University, Normal, IlGroup
2000The Fighting Is A Dance, Too Andrew Roth Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2000Picturing the Modern Amazon New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NYGroup
2000True Grit Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2000The End: An Independent Vision of Contemporary Culture, 1982-2000 Exit Art, New York City, NYGroup
1999bodies of resistance Real Art Ways, Hartford, CTGroup
1999Stop the Violence Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), ViennaGroup
1998Amnesty International Benefit Drawing Show Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1998World Artsist for Tibet Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CAGroup
1997Angel, Angel, Legends of the Present Galerie Rudolfinum, PragueGroup
1997Künstlerinnen Kunsthaus Bregenz, BregenzGroup
1997documenta X Documenta, KasselGroup
1997Acrobate mime parfait Musée Zadkine, ParisGroup
1997Nancy Spero: Collages Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1996Womens's work The Greene Naftali Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1996The 3rd Hiroshima Art Prize, Leon Golub & Nancy Spero Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, HiroshimaGroup
1996Projected Artists V,V, TheBlack and TheRed Studio Stefania Miscetti, RomeSolo
1995Sniper's Nest: Art That Has Lived with Lucy R. Lippard Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, NYGroup
1995Féminin masculin: Le sexe de l'art Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, ParisGroup
1995Collage: Made in America Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1995Leon Golub and Nancy Spero: War and Memory MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MAGroup
1995Notes in Time: Leon Golub & Nancy Spero Fine Arts Building, Baltimore, MDGroup
1994Athena & Arachne Apexart, New York City, NYGroup
1994Leon Golub and Nancy Spero Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
1994Impossible evidence: contemporary artists view the Holocaust Center for the arts, Reading, PAGroup
1994Presswork: The Art of Women Printmakers University of North Texas Art Gallery, Denton, TXGroup
1994Nancy Spero Malmö Konsthall, MalmöSolo
1993Palle Studio Stefania Miscetti, RomeGroup
1993Viande mystique Optica centre for contemporary art, Montreal, QCGroup
1993Coming to Power: 25 years of Sexually Xplicit Art by Women David Zwirner, Inc., New York City, NY Group
19931920: The Subtlety of Subversion, The Continuity of Intervention Exit Art, New York City, NYGroup
1993Whitney Biennial Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
19925th International Drawing Triennale Wroclaw Awangarda Gallery , WroclawGroup
1992The Abortion Project Hallwalls at The Church, Buffalo, NYGroup
1992Allegories of Modernism MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1991Selected Works from the Avant Garde Kent Fine Art LLC, New York City, NYGroup
1991Word As Image: American Art 1960–1990 Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TXGroup
1991Sky Goddes, Egyptian Acrobat Studio Stefania Miscetti, RomeSolo
1991Nancy Spero Barbara Gross Galerie, MunichSolo
1990The Decade Show: Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s New Museum of Contemporary Art,New York City, NYGroup
1990Insect Politics: Body Horror social Order Hallwalls at The Church, Buffalo, NYGroup
1990Nancy Spero Bonner Kunstverein, BonnSolo
1990Nancy Spero, Bilder 1958 to 1990 Der Ort internationaler Gegenwartskunst in Berlin, Berlin Solo
1989Magiciens De La Terre, Centre Pompidou Musée National d´Art Moderne, ParisGroup
1989Nancy Spero: Works Since 1950 New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NYSolo
1989Nancy Spero: Works Since 1950 The Power Plant, Toronto, ONSolo
1988The Social Club Exit Art, New York City, NYGroup
1988Nancy Spero: Works Since 1950 MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MASolo
1988Nancy Spero MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CASolo
1988Nancy Spero: War Series 1966to1969, Artaud Paintings 1969to197 Rhona Hoffman Gallery,Chicago, ILSolo
1987Reconstruction Project eyelevelgallery, Halifax, NSGroup
1987CONCRETE CRISIS: Urban Images of the 1980s Exit Art, New York City, NYGroup
1987Tragic and Timeless Today: Contemporary History Painting Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
1987Nancy Spero: Works 1954 Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, ScotlandSolo
1986Body Electric, Tyler School of Art Temple University, Philadelphia, PAGroup
19866th Biennale of Sydney: Origins, Originality + Beyond Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, NSWGroup
1986Nancy Spero: New Work Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1985After Tilted Arc Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York City, NYGroup
1985Memento Mori Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia, PAGroup
1985El Arte Narrativo Y Pintura Mexicana MoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
1985Synesthetics: Writers and Artists MoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
1985Nancy Spero University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IASolo
1984Content : A Contemporary Focus 1974 to 1984 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,Washington, DCGroup
1984Disarming Images, Art for Nuclear Disarmament – CAC, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center,Cincinnati, OHGroup
1984Art and Ideology New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NYGroup
1984Nancy Spero, The Black Paintings The Renaissance Society, Chicago, ILSolo
1984Nancy Spero, MATRIX 72 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive BAMSolo
1983The End of the World: Contemporary Visions of the Apocalypse New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NYGroup
1983Art Couples III: Leon Golub And Nancy Spero MoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
1983New Work New York, Newcastle Salutes New York University Gallery and Baring Wing, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon TyneGroup
1983Nancy Spero: 1974 to 1983 Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1983Nancy Spero, Matrix 74 The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CTSolo
1982The Atomic Salon Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc, New York City, NYGroup
1980Watercolors MoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
1980Issue: Social Strategies by Women Artists Institute of Contemporary Arts, LondonGroup
1979Artists Draw Artists Space, New York City, NYGroup
1978Overview: An Exhibition in Two Parts by the A.I.R. Gallery MoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
1973Women Choose Women New York Cultural Center, New York City, NYGroup