Day 344- Banksy- The Banksy Effect

It’s Day 344 and I’m thrilled to do a tribute to today’s artist.  Please join me in honoring Banksy today!

Banksy- from Exit Through the Gift Shop

Banksy- from Exit Through the Gift Shop

Banksy

Banksy

Banksy is a pseudonymous English graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.

His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique.

Banksy

Banksy

His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.

Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.  Observers have noted that his style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris. Banksy says that he was inspired by “3D”, a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of Massive Attack.

Banksy- Olympic Rings

Banksy- Olympic Rings

Above is from wikipedia.  The whole page was insanely long.

Banksy, a street artist whose identity remains unknown, is believed to have been born in Bristol, England, around 1974. He rose to prominence for his provocative stenciled pieces in the late 1990s. Banksy is the subject of a 2010 documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which examines the relationship between commercial and street art.

Banksy began his career as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s, in Bristol’s graffiti gang DryBreadZ Crew. Although his early work was

Banksy

Banksy

largely freehand, Banksy used stencils on occasion. In the late ’90s, he began using stencils predominantly. His work became more widely recognized around Bristol and in London, as his signature style developed.

Banksy

Banksy

Banksy’s artwork is characterized by striking images, often combined with slogans. His work often engages political themes, satirically critiquing war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed. Common subjects include rats, apes, policemen, members of the royal family, and children.

In addition to his two-dimensional work, Banksy is known for his installation artwork. One of the most celebrated of these pieces, which featured a live elephant painted with a Victorian wallpaper pattern, sparked controversy among animal rights activists.

Other pieces have drawn attention for their edgy themes or the boldness of their execution. Banksy’s work on

Banksy

Banksy

the West Bank barrier, between Israel and Palestine, received significant media attention in 2005. He is also known for his use of copyrighted material and subversion of classic images. An example of this is Banksy’s version of Monet’s famous series of water lilies paintings, adapted by Banksy to include drifting trash and debris.

Banksy’s worldwide fame has transformed his artwork from acts of vandalism to sought-after high art pieces. Journalist Max Foster has referred to the rising prices of graffiti as street art as “the Banksy effect.” Interest in Banksy escalated with the release of the 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for an Academy Award.

Banksy

Banksy

In October 2013, Banksy took to the streets of New York City. There he pledged to create a new piece of art for each day of his residency. As he explained to the Village Voice, “The plan is to live here, react to things, see the sights—and paint on them. Some of it will be pretty elaborate, and some will just be a scrawl on a toilet wall.” During that month, he also sold some of his works on the street for $60 a piece, well below the market value for his art.

Banksy’s identity remains unknown, despite intense speculation. The two names most often suggested are Robert Banks and Robin

Banksy

Banksy

Gunningham. Pictures that surfaced of a man who was supposedly Banksy pointed toward Gunningham, an artist who was born in Bristol in 1973. Gunningham moved to London around 2000, a timeline that correlates with the progression of Banksy’s artwork.

Above is from biography.com.

I hope you enjoy my tribute piece today.  Of course I would’ve loved to do my tribute on a wall today…but alas, my canvas will have to do. 🙂  I will see you tomorrow on Day 345!  Only 20 to go.

Best,

Linda

Make Art- Tribute to Banksy Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Make Art- Tribute to Banksy
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Side-View Make Art- Tribute to Banksy Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Side-View
Make Art- Tribute to Banksy
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 1 Make Art- Tribute to Banksy Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 1
Make Art- Tribute to Banksy
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 2 Make Art- Tribute to Banksy Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 2
Make Art- Tribute to Banksy
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 3 Make Art- Tribute to Banksy Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 3
Make Art- Tribute to Banksy
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Day 290- Kathe Kollwitz- Let Not Another Man Fall

It’s Day 290 and my friend Paul asked me if I had paid tribute to today’s artist and I hadn’t even heard of her.  I decided to do some research and she’s amazing.  I was also excited to attempt a charcoal portrait since I don’t have much experience (except my first year of art school) with that medium.  I had tons of fun and got really dirty.  Join me in honoring Kathe Kollwitz today.

Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz- Woodcut

Kathe Kollwitz- Woodcut

Käthe Kollwitz (8 July 1867 – 22 April 1945) was a German painter, printmaker, and sculptor whose work offered an eloquent and often searing account of the human condition, and the tragedy of war, in the first half of the 20th century. Her empathy for the less fortunate, expressed most famously through the graphic means of drawing, etching, lithography, and woodcut, embraced the victims of poverty, hunger, and war. Initially her work was grounded in Naturalism, and later took on Expressionistic qualities.

Kollwitz was born as Käthe Schmidt in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia), East Prussia, the fifth child in her family. Her father, Karl Schmidt, was a radical Social democrat

Mother with Two Children- Kathe Kollwitz

Mother with Two Children- Kathe Kollwitz

who became a mason and house builder. Her mother, Katherina Schmidt, was the daughter of Julius Rupp, a Lutheran pastor who was expelled from the official Evangelical State Church in Prussia and founded an independent congregation. Her education was greatly influenced by her grandfather’s lessons in religion and socialism.

Recognizing her talent, Kollwitz’s father arranged for her to begin lessons in drawing and copying plaster casts when she was twelve. At sixteen she began

Widows and Orphans- Kathe Kollwitz

Widows and Orphans- Kathe Kollwitz

making drawings of working people, the sailors and peasants she saw in her father’s offices. Wishing to continue her studies at a time when no colleges or academies were open to young women, Kollwitz enrolled in an art school for women in Berlin. There she studied with Karl Stauffer-Bern, a friend of the artist Max Klinger. The etchings of Klinger, their technique and social concerns, were an inspiration to Kollwitz.

At the age of seventeen, Kollwitz became engaged to Karl Kollwitz, a medical student. In 1888, she went to Munich to study at the Women’s Art School, where she realized her strength was not as a painter, but a draughtsman. In 1890, she returned to Königsberg, rented her first studio, and continued to draw labourers.

In 1891, Kollwitz married Karl, by this time a doctor, who tended to the poor in

Germany's Children Are Starving- Kathe Kollwitz

Germany’s Children Are Starving- Kathe Kollwitz

Berlin, where the couple moved into the large apartment that would be Kollwitz’s home until it was destroyed in World War II. The proximity of her husband’s practice proved invaluable:

“The motifs I was able to select from this milieu (the workers’ lives) offered me, in a simple and forthright way, what I discovered to be beautiful…. People from the bourgeois sphere were altogether without appeal or interest. All middle-class life seemed pedantic to me. On the other hand, I felt the proletariat had guts. It was not until much later…when I got to know the women who would come to my husband for help, and incidentally also to me, that I was powerfully moved by the fate of the proletariat and everything connected with its way of life…. But what I would like to emphasize once more is that compassion and commiseration were at first of very little importance in attracting me to the representation of proletarian life; what mattered was simply that I found it beautiful.”

Survivors- Kathe Kollwitz

Survivors- Kathe Kollwitz

It is believed Kollwitz suffered from anxiety during her childhood due to the death of her siblings, including the early death of her younger brother, Benjamin. More recent research suggests that Kollwitz may have suffered from a childhood neurological disorder called Alice in Wonderland syndrome, commonly associated with migraines and sensory hallucinations.

Between the births of her sons — Hans in 1892 and Peter in 1896 — Kollwitz saw a performance of Gerhart Hauptmann’s The Weavers, which dramatized the oppression of the Silesian weavers in Langembielau and their failed revolt in 1842. Inspired, the artist ceased work on a series of etchings she had intended to illustrate Émile Zola’s Germinal, and produced a cycle of six works on the weavers theme, three lithographs (PovertyDeath, and Conspiracy) and three etchings with aquatint and sandpaper (March of the WeaversRiot, and The End). Not a literal illustration of the drama, the works were a free and naturalistic expression of the workers’ misery, hope, courage, and, eventually, doom. The cycle was exhibited publicly in 1898 to wide acclaim. But when Adolf Menzel nominated her work for the gold medal of the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung in Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II withheld his approval. Nevertheless, The Weavers became Kollwitz’ most widely acclaimed work.

Kollwitz’s second major cycle of works was the Peasant War, which, subject to many preliminary drawings and discarded ideas in

Self-Portrait- Kathe Kollwitz

Self-Portrait- Kathe Kollwitz

lithography, occupied her from 1902 to 1908. The German Peasants’ War was a violent revolution which took place in Southern Germany in the early years of the Reformation, beginning in 1525; peasants who had been treated as slaves took arms against feudal lords and the church. As was The Weavers, this subject, too, might have been suggested by a Hauptmann drama, Florian Geyer. However, the initial source of Kollwitz’s interest dated to her youth, when she and her brother Konrad playfully imagined themselves as barricade fighters in a revolution. The artist identified with the character of Black Anna, a woman cited as a protagonist in the uprising. When completed, the Peasant Warconsisted of pieces in etching, aquatint, and soft ground: PlowingRapedSharpening the ScytheArming in the VaultOutbreakAfter the Battle (which, eerily premonitory, features a mother searching through corpses in the night, looking for her son), and The Prisoners. In all, the works were technically more impressive than those of The Weavers, owing to their greater size and dramatic command of light and shadow. They are Kollwitz’s highest achievements as an etcher.

Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz

While working on Peasant War, Kollwitz twice visited Paris, and enrolled in classes at the Académie Julian in order to learn how to sculpt. The etching Outbreak was awarded the Villa Romana prize, which provided for a year’s stay, in 1907, in a studio in Florence. Although Kollwitz did no work, she later recalled the impact of early Renaissance art.

After her return, Kollwitz continued to exhibit her work, but was impressed by the work of younger compatriots—the Expressionists andBauhaus—and resolved to simplify her means of expression. Subsequent works such as Runover, 1910, and Self-Portrait, 1912, show this new direction. She also continued to work on sculpture.

Kollwitz lost her youngest son, Peter, on the battlefield in World War I in October 1914, prompting a prolonged depression. By the end of the year she had made drawings for a monument to Peter and his fallen comrades; she destroyed the monument in 1919 and began again in 1925. The memorial, titled The Grieving Parents, was finally completed and placed in the Belgian cemetery of Roggevelde in 1932. Later, when Peter’s grave was moved to the nearby Vladslo German war cemetery, the statues were also moved.

In 1917, on her fiftieth birthday, the galleries of Paul Cassirer provided a retrospective exhibition of one hundred and fifty drawings by

Self Portrait with Hand on Brow- Kathe Kollwitz

Self Portrait with Hand on Brow- Kathe Kollwitz

Kollwitz.

Kollwitz was a committed socialist and pacifist, who was eventually attracted to communism; her political and social sympathies found expression in the “memorial sheet for Karl Liebknecht” and in her involvement with the Arbeitsrat für Kunst, a part of the Social Democratic Party government in the first few weeks after the war. As the war wound down and a nationalistic appeal was made for old men and children to join the fighting, Kollwitz implored in a published statement:

“There has been enough of dying! Let not another man fall!”

Beggars- Kathe Kollwitz

Beggars- Kathe Kollwitz

While working on the sheet for Karl Liebknecht, she found etching insufficient for expressing monumental ideas. After viewing woodcuts by Ernst Barlach at the Secessionexhibitions, she completed the Liebknecht sheet in the new medium and made about thirty woodcuts by 1926.

In 1920 Kollwitz was elected a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts, the first woman to be so honored. Membership entailed a regular income, a large studio, and a full professorship.

In 1933, after the establishment of the National-Socialist regime, the Nazi Party authorities forced her to resign her place on the faculty of the Akademie der Künste following her support of the Dringender Appell. Her work was removed from museums. Although she was banned from exhibiting, one of her “mother and child” pieces was used by the Nazis for propaganda.

Working now in a smaller studio, in the mid-1930s she completed her last major cycle of lithographs, Death, which consisted of eight stones: Woman Welcoming DeathDeath with Girl in LapDeath Reaches for a Group of ChildrenDeath Struggles with a WomanDeath on the HighwayDeath as a FriendDeath in the Water, and The Call of Death.

In July 1936, she and her husband were visited by the Gestapo, who threatened her with arrest and deportation to a Nazi concentration

Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz

camp; they resolved to commit suicide if such a prospect became inevitable. However, Kollwitz was by now a figure of international note, and no further action was taken. On her seventieth birthday, she “received over one hundred and fifty telegrams from leading personalities of the art world”, as well as offers to house her in the United States, which she declined for fear of provoking reprisals against her family.

She outlived her husband (who died from an illness in 1940) and her grandson Peter, who died in action in World War II two years later.

She was evacuated from Berlin in 1943. Later that year, her house was bombed and many drawings, prints, and documents were lost. She moved first to Nordhausen, then to Moritzburg, a town near Dresden, where she lived her final months as a guest of Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony. Kollwitz died just before the end of the war.

Kollwitz made a total of 275 prints, in etching, woodcut and lithography. Virtually the only portraits she made during her life were images of herself, of which there are at least fifty. These self-portraits constitute a lifelong honest self-appraisal; “they are psychological milestones”.

Partial biography is from wikipedia.

I decided just to do a self portrait and not make a commentary on anything political.  Although the more I think about it, I should’ve at least done a portrait of me in pain…crying or something.  I love the story of this artist’s life and I think her artwork is harrowingly beautiful and haunting.  I will see you tomorrow on Day 291!

Best,

Linda

Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz Linda Cleary 2014 Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz
Linda Cleary 2014
Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Side-View Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz Linda Cleary 2014 Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Side-View
Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz
Linda Cleary 2014
Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Close-Up 1 Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz Linda Cleary 2014 Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Close-Up 1
Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz
Linda Cleary 2014
Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Close-Up 2 Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz Linda Cleary 2014 Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Close-Up 2
Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz
Linda Cleary 2014
Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Close-Up 3 Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz Linda Cleary 2014 Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

Close-Up 3
Self-Portrait- Tribute to Kathe Kollwitz
Linda Cleary 2014
Stain & Charcoal on Canvas

 

Day 224- Thornton Dial- The Hard Truth

It’s Day 224 and today’s piece is an example of an artwork that I would’ve never done if I wasn’t inspired by today’s artist! I had so much fun doing today’s tribute. Join me in honoring Thornton Dial today.

Thornton Dial

Thornton Dial

Beginning of Life in Yellow Jungle- Thornton Dial

Beginning of Life in Yellow Jungle- Thornton Dial

Thornton Dial was born in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama. Dial is a self-taught artist who came to prominence in the United States in the late 1980s.

Thornton Dial was born to Mattie Bell in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama. He lived with his mother until he was around three when Dial and his half-brother Arthur moved in with their second cousin, Buddy Jake Dial, who was a farmer. When Thornton moved in with Buddy Jake, he farmed and learned about the

Close Up- Beginning of Life in Yellow Jungle- Thornton Dial

Close Up- Beginning of Life in Yellow Jungle- Thornton Dial

sculptures that Buddy Jake made from items lying around the yard, an experience that greatly influenced him. Dial grew up in poverty and without the presence of his father. This poverty led him and his siblings to create toys from the discarded objects around them.

Thornton Dial Close up of mixed media piece

Thornton Dial
Close up of mixed media piece

In 1940, Dial moved to Bessemer, Alabama. When he arrived in Bessemer, he noticed the art along the way in people’s yard and was amazed at the level of craft exhibited. He married Clara Mae Murrow in 1951. They have five children, one of which died of cerebral palsy. He was cousins with the late artist Ronald Lockett.

His principal place of employment was the Pullman Company in Bessemer, Alabama, until the company closed its doors in 1981. After the Pullman factory shut down, Dial began to dedicate himself to his art for his own pleasure. In 1987, he was introduced to Bill Arnett, a local art collector of great influence who brought Dial’s work to public attention.

In a 1997 profile about Dial, the New York

Thornton Dial

Thornton Dial

Times mentions a show entitled “Bearing Witness: African-American Vernacular Art of the South.” In the article, Dial is described as an artist who “can barely read and write” but who friends describe as “smart as a fox” and good at math, with an ability to accurately estimate the size of a canvas by eye”.

Dial has lived, worked, and created art in Alabama for his entire life. He continues to create works of art and shows them throughout the United States.

Thornton Dial met another self-taught artist Lonnie Holley, who introduced Dial to Atlanta collector and art historian William Arnett. Arnett, who focuses on African-American vernacular art and artists, brought Dial’s

Drummond Mines The Strip Mining Business- Thornton Dial

Drummond Mines The Strip Mining Business- Thornton Dial

work to national prominence. The art historian has also brought Lonnie Holley, the Gee’s Bend Quilters and others to the attention of the United States. Arnett also helped to create the Tinwood publishing company in 1996, along with his sons Paul and Matt.

Dial’s work addresses urgent issues in the realm of history and politics in the United States, such as war, racism, bigotry and homelessness. He constructs large-scale assemblages using cast-away objects, anything from rope to bones to buckets. Some of his compositions are delicate drawings whilst others are dramatic and dark paintings which tend to be large-scale with strong use of colour and fluid forms. Combining paint and found materials Dial weaves together an interpretation of history and politics in the United States. David C. Driskell, an artist and art historian of African American art, points to one of Dial’s symbolic creatures, the tiger. The Tiger represents the struggle to survive through difficult events and eventually the tiger symbolizes the African American struggle to obtain equal rights in the United States.

In 2011, Dial’s work was profiled in a four-page story in Time Magazine, where art and architecture

DON'T MATTER HOW RAGGLY THE FLAG, IT STILL GOT TO TIE US TOGETHER Thornton Dial

DON’T MATTER HOW RAGGLY THE FLAG, IT STILL GOT TO TIE US TOGETHER
Thornton Dial

critic Richard Lacayo argued that Dial’s work belongs to the category of art and should not be pigeon-holed into narrowly defined categories:

“Dial’s work has sometimes been described as “outsider art”, a term that attempts to cover the product of everyone from naive painters like Grandma Moses to institutionalized lost souls like Martín Ramírez and full-bore obsessives like Henry Darger, the Chicago janitor who spent a lifetime secretly producing a private fantasia of little girls in peril. But if there’s one lesson to take away from “Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial,” a triumphant new retrospective at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, it’s that Dial, 82, doesn’t belong within even the broad confines of that category….What he does can be discussed as art, just art, no surplus notions of outsiderness required….And not just that, but some of the most assured, delightful and powerful art around.”

Thornton Dial with Arnett in front of one of Dial's assemblages.

Thornton Dial with Arnett in front of one of Dial’s assemblages.

Michael Kimmelman, from the New York Times, called Dial “preternaturally gifted,” and said he looks “dumfoundingly adept to some of us because his energy and fluent line, abstracted in maelstroms of color, easily call to mind Pollock and de Kooning,” while New York Times reporter Carol Kino described Dial’s “work’s look, ambition, and obvious intellectual reach hew[ing] closely to that of many other modern and contemporary masters, from Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg to Jean-Michel Basquiat.”

In 1993, Dial’s work was the subject of a large exhibition that was presented simultaneously at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the American Folk Art Museum in New York. In 2000, the artist’s work was included in the Whitney Biennial, and in 2005-06, the Museum of Fine Art; Houston presented a major exhibition entitled “Thornton Dial in the 21st Century”. Dial’s works can be found in many notable public and private collections, including those of, among other institutions, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the American Folk Art Museum, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Biography is from wikipedia.

Getting everything onto the canvas!  It was a challenge!

Getting everything onto the canvas! It was a challenge!

I hope you enjoy my piece in honor of Mr. Dial today.  It was a joy to work with all these strange materials and a challenge on how to assemble it and actually get it onto the canvas.  I used a doll, a small plastic baby figure, sticks, sand, rocks, hot glue, feathers and leaves. After getting it onto the canvas I primed it with white spray and then painted it.  Whew!

I will see you tomorrow on Day 225! 

Best, Linda

We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial Linda Cleary 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas

We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial
Linda Cleary 2014
Mixed Media on Canvas

Side-View We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial Linda Cleary 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas

Side-View
We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial
Linda Cleary 2014
Mixed Media on Canvas

Close-Up 1 We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial Linda Cleary 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas

Close-Up 1
We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial
Linda Cleary 2014
Mixed Media on Canvas

Close-Up 2 We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial Linda Cleary 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas

Close-Up 2
We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial
Linda Cleary 2014
Mixed Media on Canvas

Close-Up 3 We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial Linda Cleary 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas

Close-Up 3
We Are All Children of the Earth- Tribute to Thornton Dial
Linda Cleary 2014
Mixed Media on Canvas

Day 102- Nancy Spero- Achieving Veracity

It’s Day 102.  I’m going to start using numbers in my titles now…small detail, but realized how long the titles would be if I kept spelling them out in words!  I’m having a lazy Saturday (for me…meaning just painting a few paintings and walking dogs).  Join me in celebrating Nancy Spero today.

Nancy Spero

Nancy Spero

 

A detail of The Re-Birth of Venus, handprinting on paper, 1984 Photograph: David Reynolds/Anthony Reynolds Gallery

A detail of The Re-Birth of Venus, handprinting on paper, 1984 Photograph: David Reynolds/Anthony Reynolds Gallery

Nancy Spero (August 24, 1926 – October 18, 2009) was an American visual artist.  

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Spero lived for much of her life in New York City. She was married to, and collaborated with artist Leon Golub.

As both artist and activist, Nancy Spero’s career spanned fifty years. She was renowned

Nancy Spero. "Masha Bruskina / Gestapo Victim," 1994. Handprinting and printed collage on paper

Nancy Spero. “Masha Bruskina / Gestapo Victim,” 1994. Handprinting and printed collage on paper

for her continuous engagement with contemporary political, social, and cultural concerns. Spero chronicled wars and apocalyptic violence as well as articulating visions of ecstatic rebirth and the celebratory cycles of life. Her complex network of collective and individual voices was a catalyst for the creation of her figurative lexicon representing women from prehistory to the present in such epic-scale paintings and collage on paper as Torture of Women (1976), Notes in Time on Women (1979) and The First Language (1981). In 2010, “Notes in Time” was posthumously reanimated as a digital scroll in the online magazine Triple Canopy.

Nancy Spero, "Azur," detail 2002 courtesy Galerie Lelong

Nancy Spero, “Azur,” detail 2002 courtesy Galerie Lelong

Spero was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1926, but a year later her family moved to Chicago, where she grew up. After graduating from New Trier High School, she studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating in 1949. Among Spero’s peers at the Art Institute was a young GI who had returned from service in World War II, Leon Golub. Spero and Golub exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago as part of the group the Monster Roster.

After her graduation from the Art Institute Spero continued to study painting in Paris

Nancy Spero The Race, 1988. Handprinting and printed collage on paper

Nancy Spero The Race, 1988. Handprinting and printed collage on paper

at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and at the Atelier of Andre Lhote, an early Cubist painter, teacher and critic. Soon after her return to the United States in 1950, she married the painter Leon Golub, and the two artists settled in Chicago.

From 1956 to 1957, Spero and Golub lived and painted in Italy, while raising their two sons. Spero and Golub were equally committed to exploring a modernist representation of the human form, with its narratives and art historical resonances, even as Abstract Expressionism was becoming the dominant idiom. In Florence and Ischia that Spero became intrigued by the format, style and mood of Etruscan and Roman frescoes and sarcophagi which would influence her later work.

Nancy Spero- from her Black Paintings

Nancy Spero- from her Black Paintings

Finding a more varied, inclusive and international atmosphere in Europe than in the New York artworld of the time, Spero and her family moved to Paris, living there from 1959 to 1964. Spero’s third son was born in Paris, and the artist had major solo exhibitions in Paris at Galerie Breteau in 1962, 1964, and 1968. During this period, Spero painted a series titled Black Paintings depicting mythic themes such as mothers and children, lovers, prostitutes and hybrid, human-animal forms.

Spero and Golub returned to New York in 1964, where the couple remained to live and

NANCY SPERO, To the revolution, 1981 (Detail). Handprinting and Collage on paper

NANCY SPERO, To the revolution, 1981 (Detail). Handprinting and Collage on paper

work. The Vietnam War was raging and the Civil Rights Movement was exploding. Affected by images of the war broadcast nightly on television and the unrest and violence evident in the streets, Spero began her War Series (1966–70). These small gouache and inks on paper, executed rapidly, represented the obscenity and destruction of war. The War Series is among the most sustained and powerful group of works in the genre of history painting that condemns war and its real and lasting consequences.

An activist and early feminist, Spero was a member of the Art Workers Coalition (1968–69), Women Artists in Revolution (1969), and in 1972 she was a founding member of the first women’s cooperative gallery, A.I.R. (Artists in Residence) in SoHo. It was during this period that Spero completed her “Artaud Paintings” (1969–70), finding her artistic “voice” and developing her signature scroll paintings, the Codex Artaud (1971–1972), in which she directly quoted the writings of the poet and playwright Antonin Artaud. Uniting text and image, printed on long scrolls of paper, glued end-to-end and tacked on the walls of A.I.R., Spero violated the formal presentation, choice of valued medium and scale of framed paintings.

Artemis, Goddess and Centaur (1983)- Nancy Spero

Artemis, Goddess and Centaur (1983)- Nancy Spero

Although her collaged and painted scrolls were Homeric in both scope and depth, the artist shunned the grandiose in content as well as style, relying instead on intimacy and immediacy, while also revealing the continuum of shocking political realities underlying enduring myths. In a 2008 interview in The Brooklyn Rail with publisher Phong Bui, Spero says of her early identification with Artaud: “For me, the spoken words were part of the body, as if whatever I was trying to paint, and my own awareness of pain and anger—you can call it the destruction of the self—was an integral part, that duality. Things get split up right in the middle, which I was very much interested in at that moment in my life.”

In 1974, Spero chose to focus on themes involving women and their representation in various cultures;

Nancy Spero

Nancy Spero

her Torture in Chile (1974) and the long scroll, Torture of Women(1976, 20 inches x 125 feet), interweave oral testimonies with images of women throughout history, linking the contemporary governmental brutality of Latin American dictatorships (from Amnesty International reports) with the historical repression of women. Spero re-presented previously obscured women’s histories, cultural mythology, and literary references with her expressive figuration.

Thou Shalt Not Kill, plate VI- Nancy Spero

Thou Shalt Not Kill, plate VI- Nancy Spero

Developing a pictographic language of body gestures and motion, a bodily hieroglyphics, Spero reconstructed the diversity of representations of women from pre-history to the present. From 1976 through 1979, she researched and worked on Notes in Time on Women, a 20 inch by 210 foot paper scroll. She elaborated and amplified this theme in The First Language (1979–81, 20 inches by 190 feet), eschewing text altogether in favor of an irregular rhythm of painted, hand-printed, and collaged figures, thus creating her “cast of characters.” The acknowledgement of Spero’s international status as a preeminent figurative and feminist artist was signaled in 1987 by her traveling retrospective exhibitions in the United States and United Kingdom. By 1988, she developed her first wall installations. For these installations, Spero extended the picture plane of the scrolls by moving her printed images directly onto the walls of museums and public spaces.

Harnessing a capacious imaginative energy and a ferocious will, Spero continued to mine the full range of power relations. In 1987, following retrospective exhibitions in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, the artist created images that leapt from the scroll surface to the wall surface, refiguring representational forms of women over time and engaging in a dialogue with architectural space. Spero’s wall paintings in Chicago, Vienna, Dresden, Toronto, and Derry form poetic reconstructions of the diversity of representations of women from the ancient to the contemporary world, validating a subjectivity of female experience.

Spero expressed her art once in this way: “I’ve always sought to express a tension in form and meaning in order to achieve a veracity. I have come to the conclusion that the art world has to join us, women artists, not we join it. When women are in leadership roles and gain rewards and recognition, then perhaps ‘we’ (women and men) can all work together in art world actions.”

Nancy Spero died of heart failure in Manhattan on October 18, 2009.

Biography is from wikipedia.

The most difficult part of painting today was choosing what I wanted to paint and also how I wanted to.  Nancy Spero is one of those artists that does have a style, but also her style has evolved and changed throughout the years.  I find that difficulty with certain artists more than others.  But I think evolution is wonderful.  I know that people would be astounded if they saw the versatility of my art.  Not all of it is good, but it definitely varied throughout the years.  I finally told myself just to keep examining her artwork until something came to me…and it did!

I hope you enjoy my tribute today and I will see you tomorrow on Day 103!  Best, Linda

We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero Linda Cleary 2014 Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero
Linda Cleary 2014
Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Side-View We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero Linda Cleary 2014 Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Side-View
We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero
Linda Cleary 2014
Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 1 We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero Linda Cleary 2014 Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 1
We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero
Linda Cleary 2014
Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 2 We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero Linda Cleary 2014 Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 2
We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero
Linda Cleary 2014
Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 3 We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero Linda Cleary 2014 Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 3
We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero
Linda Cleary 2014
Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 4 We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero Linda Cleary 2014 Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 4
We Are Pro-Choice- Tribute to Nancy Spero
Linda Cleary 2014
Pen, Ink, Acrylic on Canvas