Scope and Contents
The papers of painter, collage artist, and printmaker Nancy Spero measure 26.4 linear feet and 19.12 GB and are dated 1940s-2009. Biographical material, correspondence and other files documenting Spero's personal and professional relationships, interviews and writings, records of Spero's many exhibitions and projects, files highlighting the major subjects that galvanized her, business records, printed and photographic material, and digital and video recordings, offer detailed insight into the career of one of the earliest feminist artists.
Biographical material includes biographical notes and curricula vitae, as well as several video recordings of documentaries about Spero by Patsy Scala and Irene Sosa which feature original footage of Spero at work. Correspondence is personal and professional, and includes letters from artists including Judy Chicago and Ana Mendieta, writers and curators such as Deborah Frizzell and Susanne Altmann, regarding Spero exhibition catalogs, monographs, and articles, and personal news from family members such as Spero's sons, and correspondence related to other aspects of Spero's career.
Interviews of Spero include transcripts, published interviews, and video recordings. Writings include many of Spero's statements about her work, as well as notes, published versions of articles written by Spero, and video recordings of talks and panel discussions she participated in.
Exhibition files for over 75 shows document the extent to which Spero's work has been widely exhibited in her lifetime with numerous solo exhibitions, including major retrospectives in London, Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid, and dozens of group exhibitions in which she participated over the course of her career.
Gallery and museum files supplement the exhibition files by further documenting Spero's dealings with numerous galleries and museums, including Galerie Lelong, which represents Spero's estate, Barbara Gross Galerie, the first gallery in Germany to represent Spero, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery of Canada, and many others. The series also documents Spero's involvement with A.I.R. Gallery, the first independent women's art venue in the United States.
Professional files document other aspects of Spero's career including, but not limited to, awards she received, organizations she participated in or contributed to, publishing projects related to her work, and individual projects she executed such as an installation at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago and the Artemis, Acrobats, Divas & Dancers mosaic tiles she created for the Metropolitan Transit Authority for the 66th Street/Lincoln Center subway station. Also included here are files related to works of art such as Codex Artaud, and Notes in Time.
Subject files, contents of which were presumably used as source material for Spero, document subjects of interest to her, many of which were incorporated into her work and consists primarily of printed material. Broad subject categories include animal rights and conservation, feminism, war, and women. One set of folders documents "museum and political actions" undertaken by Spero and other activists during the 1960s-1970s to fight for equal representation of women in the arts and challenge the male-dominated hierarchy of the art world. Subject files include multiple news articles on torture, rape, and other atrocities committed particularly against women during wartime and by repressive and autocratic political regimes, and also include source material on the archetypal images of women that were fundamental to her interpretation of the female experience.
Printed material documents Spero's entire career from the late 1950s on. Announcements, exhibition catalogs, invitations, news clippings, and periodicals provide comprehensive coverage of her many exhibitions and other events. Printed material also documents the activities of a few other artists, primarily from the 2000s, and includes periodicals, primarily about art, and video recordings of documentaries about art and various other subjects.
Photographic material includes photographs of Nancy Spero from the 1940s on, photos of Spero with family and friends, and photographs of artwork including the heads of Spero's 2007 Maypole: Take No Prisoners which was the last major work completed before her death, originally realized for the Venice Biennale. Also found are a few installation shots and prints, slides, and digital images of Notes in Time at A.I.R. Gallery in 1979.