This article is an analysis of artist-activist Nancy Spero’s War Series paintings, 1966–70. The author analyzes her paintings from this crucial time period within the context of significant historical events that impacted her artistic development of themes, formal devices, and radical breaks from numerous canonical art tenets. Within the emergence of the American political and artistic Left, Spero’s political radicalism became the foundation of her artistic content and studio practice. From this foundation, as an early feminist artist, Spero produced a wide-ranging figurative oeuvre that pioneered a new lexicon of image/text and figure/ground conjunctions, overturning the prescriptive universalist ideals of modern art.
Search and Destroy: Nancy Spero’s War Series, 1966–70
Deborah Frizzell is the arts editor of Cultural Politics. She is adjunct professor of art history at William Paterson University in New Jersey, where she teaches modern and contemporary art history and theory. She has written numerous articles on Spero, including “Nancy Spero’s War Maypole: Take No Prisoners” (2008), “Nancy Spero’s Museum Incursions: Isis on the Threshold” (2006), and “Alchemical Secrets: Spero’s Fragmentation and Recreation” (2002). She is writing a manuscript on Spero’s influences on younger generations of artists.
Deborah Frizzell; Search and Destroy: Nancy Spero’s War Series, 1966–70. Cultural Politics 1 March 2020; 16 (1): 111–122. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-8017298
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