Born in Cleveland (United States) in 1926, Nancy Spero studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1949), a bastion of figurative painting, before moving to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. As one of the founders of the A.I.R. Gallery in New York, which promotes women artists, she was a pioneer of feminist art. From the 1960s, she battled against the abuse of power, western privileges and the male thought systems. Her art, characterised by an intense realism, includes works on paper and ephemeral installations, and find inspiration in contemporary or historical events such as the torture of women in Nicaragua, the Holocaust and the atrocities committed during the Vietnamese War. Spero’s female models are drawn from a wide range of visual sources: from Egyptian hieroglyphs to Hollywood-style adverts for underwear, and seventeenth-century French painting. Her figures appear within compositions that have no hierarchy, thus reinforcing the principles of equality and tollerance that drive her work. She died in 2009.
Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Museu d'Art Contemporani in Barcelona, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.