Nancy Spero (Cleveland, USA, 1926 – New York, 2009) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the studio of André Lhote, a Cubist painter and art critic. She lived between the United States and Paris. During her fifty-year career as an artist, Spero drew on the experience of women, defying all the conventions of patriarchy. She soon gave up oil on canvas and became more comfortable working on paper, incorporating images from the history of ancient art and classical antiquity, as well as the contemporary world. She denounced the atrocities caused by conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust and torture under Latin American dictatorships. While her peers opted for Minimalism, Spero became interested in the symbolist poetry of Stephane Mallarmé and the tormented personality of Antonin Artaud, whose writing and imagery she combined in a cycle called Artaud Paintings. With a direct and intense linguistic approach, Spero’s work denounces the widespread abuse of male power and domination. From the 1980s onwards, her work became lightened by the introduction of dancing figures drawn from the motifs of universal archaeology.

Spero was widely exhibited, especially in her later years. Major exhibitions were held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1987); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1993); Malmö Konsthall (1994); Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (1996); MACBA, Barcelona (2008); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2008); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2010); and MoMA PS1, New York (2019). Her work is included in such prominent collections as the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Tate, London; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf; MoMA, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and MACBA, Barcelona.

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