Artaud Painting – That thick hemp in the neck of the priest about to be hung, 1969

Collage, 62.9 x 50.8 cm
In 1964 Nancy Spero moved to New York, where she was ignored by a male-orientated society focused on the aesthetics of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism then in vogue. She decided to work with fragile materials, through which she critiqued the participation of the American government in the Vietnam War. Later, she created more personal works based on the tormented writings of the French poet Antonin Artaud. She also produced the Codex Artaud that was exhibited in 1973 at A.I.R., the first women’s gallery, founded by Nancy Spero and other artists a year earlier. These are fragile works on paper in which she used a combination of writing, drawing and collage. Artaud’s text, handwritten or typed, is accompanied by small painted images, created as an extension of the words. The format resembles Chinese and Japanese scrolls, Egyptian papyri and medieval illuminated manuscripts. Emotionally intense and with a rhythmic movement, Spero’s iconography focuses on the representation of different forms of violence against women.

Technical details

Original title:
Artaud Painting – That thick hemp in the neck of the priest about to be hung
Registration number:
Spero, Nancy
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Gouache, ink and collage on paper
62.9 x 50.8 cm (height x width)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts with a VEGAP licence, Barcelona
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The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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