After studying Advertising at the School of Arts and Crafts and later Fine Art at the School of Fine Arts (both Valencia), Carmen Calvo settled in Madrid between 1983 and 1985 and then in Paris, where she remained until 1992. Since then, she has lived and worked in Valencia. Although her work is Conceptual, it is also linked to Surrealism and Pop art, with a production that includes sculpture, objects, installation, painting, ceramics and photography. The use of religious and sexual votive offerings and amulets, the reappropriation and intervention of found objects and images such as photographs or magazine cuttings, constantly appear in her work, invariably with an element of play and a defiant irony. Over the years, Calvo has created a critical and poetic language that confronts the weight of religion and vindicates pleasure. She usually works with the idea of fragments and of recovery or finding, sometimes using small pieces of ceramics or other materials distributed in space as if signs to be deciphered, or images imbedded in a collage: a palimpsest of elements that evokes human relations and the great theatre of the world.
Her international reputation grew after representing Spain, together with Joan Brossa, at the Spanish pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 1997. She has exhibited in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Her exhibitions include IVAM, Valencia (1990 and 2007); Museum of Modern Art, Mexico (1998); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Sofía Ímber, Caracas (1999); Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (2002); Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman (2005); and Sala Kubo Kutxa, San Sebastián (2020). Her work is in various collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Fundació ”la Caixa”, Barcelona; IVAM, Valencia; Fonds national d’art contemporain FNAC, Paris; and MACBA, Barcelona.