Nancy Spero

Nancy Spero, the prominent artist of the 20-21st century died nearly two months ago.  She was an outstanding artist as well as activist for all her life. Creative heritage of Nancy Spero could be easily recognized, her prominent talent is well known all over the world.

Brief biography

Personal life of Nancy Spero could be characterized as the life of ideal woman. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1926. She finished School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1949, and after finishing school she met Leon Golub, her future husband. Nearly a year passed after she graduated the School, they married. They had three children living and working together “till death them did part” up to 2004, when Leon Golub died. This is the story of exemplary couple. However, Nancy Spero was world famous as a pioneer of feminist art. During her active life she studied painting in France and Italy, but from 1964 she lived and worked in New York.  Her pictures, installations and wall paintings could be easily found in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.  Her alma-mater, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her with honorable doctorate in 1991, another doctorate she received in Williams College in 2001.  In 2006 she was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (New York).

Overall theme

The Vietnam War produced a huge impact on Nancy Spero and her creative activity. Her War Series, which were affected by the pictures of war, were recognized as the sustained history painting condemning war and its consequences. However, the traditional genres of painting seemed to be too narrow for Spero. She began to use collages and combined images with the text.  In 1974 the outstanding painter as the activist of feminist movement started new theme, devoted to women throughout history. She masterfully depicted male domination and historical repressions of womanhood.

One of the works

Impressing talent of Nancy demanded new forms for her self-expression. She changed collages for installations, wall paintings and mosaics. I’d like to describe one of glass mosaic panels by Nancy Spero, “Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers” was created as the part of the series of 22 works and installed at the Lincoln Center station of the West Side IRT at 66th Street.  Nancy Spero tried to reflect the movement as she did in the many of her works. Another typical detail for Spero’s work is the image of the Diva. Nancy depicted Diva with the flat single-color silhouette. Position of the body and the head reminds the audience Egyptian and ancient Greek paintings from the pyramids of Pharaoh and amphorae.  Images of dancers lead the viewers even deeper in the past, to the rock paintings of primitive society.

As was mentioned earlier, Nancy wanted to combine myths and reality, ancient and modern times. She often used the symbol of the eternal womanhood. Artemis was the virgin goddess of the hunt, and this goddess could be actually considered the patroness of feminism ”“ if it really needed any patronage. “Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers” was recognized as one of the most spectacular and exotic works. People who ride through the Lincoln Center station say that the mosaic gives the illusion of movement.


The works of Nancy Spero are the perfect example of the eclecticism.  Nancy combined genres, styles, materials and themes ”“ and in that way she created her real masterpieces.

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