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Now Representing the Estate of Nancy Spero

Posted 1 June 2020

Frith Street Gallery is now representing the Estate of Nancy Spero, in collaboration with Galerie Lelong & Co. and The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts.

Fifty years ago today, on 1 June 1970, Nancy Spero and three other members of W.A.R. [Women Artists in Revolution] wrote to John Hightower, then director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

They demanded Hightower make 'A PUBLIC STATEMENT, AN ACT OF COMMITMENT AGAINST WAR, RACISM, SEXISM, AND REPRESSION'. 'YOU CAN NOT LET "BUSINESS AS USUAL" DOMINATE THE SCENE WHEN DRASTIC CHANGES IN LIFE AND POLITICS ARE TAKING PLACE', they wrote. This letter followed a call by the Art Workers Coalition that museums in New York close on 22 May 1970 in protest against the ongoing war in Vietnam.

Founded in 1969, W.A.R. analysed the pervasive sexism in all sections of society from the government and the military to the anti-war movement and the art world. W.A.R.'s Statement of 1970 included a demand that EVERY ART MUSEUM, GALLERY, FOUNDATION, AND ALL OTHER ART INSTITUTIONS MUST INCLUDE 50% WOMEN ARTISTS BY 1975.

Throughout the five decades of her radical career the American artist and activist Nancy Spero (1926-2009) placed the lived female experience at the heart of her practice. She challenged aesthetic and political orthodoxies, abandoning figurative painting in the 1960s in reaction to the horrors of the Vietnam War.

From the 1970s she focused on representing the full gamut of women's experience throughout history, creating epic works, she described as 'ephemeral monuments'. In these, she created a pantheon of figures, from joyful, liberated athletes and dancers, to victims of violence, drawing on the iconography of ancient goddesses from Egypt, Greece and the Celtic world alongside contemporary media images.

Spero's work is held in many public collections worldwide including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Tate, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts; and Dallas Museum of Art, Texas.

Major monographic exhibitions of Spero's work have been shown at museums internationally, including the Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico; Centre Pompidou, France; Serpentine Galleries, UK; Museo d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Spain. In 2007, Spero presented the installation Maypole: Take No Prisoners at the 52nd Venice Biennale. A touring exhibition, Nancy Spero: Acts of Rebellion opened at Museum Folkwang, Germany last year.

Frith Street Gallery will be holding a major exhibition of Nancy Spero's work in 2021.

Photo: Susan Weiley. Artwork © The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts/VAGA at ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020. Courtesy Frith Street Gallery and Galerie Lelong & Co.

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Now Representing the Estate of Nancy Spero