christine koenig galerie: ADIEU! A tribute to Nancy Spero and Leon Golub - 15 Jan 2010 to 6 Mar 2010
NANCY SPERO, Maenad Circle , 2003
hand print on paper, ø 35 cm
Courtesy Christine König Galerie, Vienna
ADIEU! A tribute to Nancy Spero and Leon Golub
Opening: Thursday, January 14, 2010, 7 - 9 pm, together with the galleries Georg Kargl,
Engholm, Gabriele Senn, and Momentum.
Duration of the exhibition: January 15 - March 6, 2010
Exhibition views will be available after the opening at
Please contact the gallery for further information and press images at firstname.lastname@example.org
NANCY SPERO (1926, Cleveland - 2009, New York)
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2009 Woman as Protagonist, and Herbert Boeckl-Preis 2009, Museum der Moderne Salzburg; Dissidances, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Sevilla; 2008 Dissidances, Museu d`Art Contemporani de Barcelona; 2003 LEON GOLUB NANCY SPERO, Christine König Galerie, Vienna; 1997 NANCY SPERO: notes in time on women, Galerie Christine König & Franziska Lettner, Vienna; 1996 Cycle in Time, New York Kunsthalle; Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, retrospective exhibition, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan; 1994-96 War and Memory, Nancy Spero and Leon Golub retrospective exhibition and To The Revolution, wall installation, The American Center, Paris and MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1994 The First Language & The Black and The Red, with wall installation, retrospective exhibition, Malmö Konsthal, Sweden; 1993 Torture of Women, The First Language & The Hours of the Night, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; 1992 Codex Artaud, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Bilder 1981-1991, Christine König Galerie, Vienna; 1990 The First Language, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, with wall installation, To Soar; Nancy Spero, Works Since 1950, retrospective exhibition, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York (travelled to: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Power Plant, Toronto; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York); Nancy Spero, retrospective exhibition curated by Jon Bird, Institute of Contemporary Art, London; 1976 Torture of Women, A.I.R. Gallery, New York; 1973 Codex Artaud, A.I.R. Gallery, New York; SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2007 Think with the Senses - Feel with the Mind. Art in the Present Tense, Venice Biennale; 2001 Markers, Venice Biennale; 2000 Kwangju Biennale 2000, Korea; 1997 Documenta X, Kassel; 1995 After Hiroshima - Message from Contemporary Art, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemorary Art, Japan; 1994 Cloaca Maxima, Museum der Stadtentwässerung, Zurich, curated by Hans-Ulrich Obrist; 1987 The Castle, Documenta 8, Kassel; 1986 The Biennial of Sydney, Australia.
"The one thing that artists must possess above all other qualities is immense courage." (Jean Rouch) For more than half a century, Nancy Spero's courage propelled a practice of enormous imagination that moved across painting, collage, printmaking, and installation, constructing what Spero once called a peinture féminine that could address - and redress - both the struggles of women in patriarchal society and the horrors perennially wrought by American military might. Spero's art is ambiguous, using a complex symbolic language incorporating goddess-protagonists drawn from Greek, Egyptian, Indian, and pagan mythologies.
Her career was also fueled by her enduring dialogue with her husband Leon Golub, whom she met in the late 1940s at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1959 to 1964 the couple lived in Paris, where Spero produced the Black Paintings, somber, figurative works, marking Spero's first consistent oppositions to the prevailing conventions in art making.
It was with the War Series (1966-70), produced during the Vietnam war in New York, that Spero established her politicization of painting. She constructed a picture of conflict as orgy, its grotesque realism being all the more disturbing for what Spero once described as its "weird combination of the celebratory and the horrendous". Spero joined the Art Workers Coalition in 1968, Women Artists in Revolution in 1969, and became a founding member of the women-only cooperative Artists in Residence Gallery (A.I.R.),
The series of scroll works Codex Artaud (1971/72), which have been described as the first works of Post-Modernism, used collage to juxtapose text and image, the linearity of their elements recalling hieroglyphics, pieces of text taken from Antonin Artaud's writings exposing her "anger and disappointment at the art world and at the world as a whole". Following the Artaud series, Spero began to work on her pioneering and critically lauded scroll works: Hours of the Night, 1974 (Whitney Museum of American Art), Torture of Women, 1976 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa) and Notes in Time on Women, 1979 (Museum of Modern Art, New York).
"I am speaking of equality, and about a certain kind of power of movement in the world, and yet I am not offering any systematic solutions." (Nancy Spero)
(quot. Hans Ulrich Obrist and Galerie Lelong)
LEON GOLUB (1922, Chicago - 2004, New York)
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2008 Did It!, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York; 2003 Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago; 2003 LEON GOLUB NANCY SPERO, Christine König Galerie, Vienna; 2000-2001 Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, retrospective exhibition (travelling to South London Gallery; The Brooklyn Museum of Art); 2000 S.M.A.K. (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuelle Kunst), Ghent; TRANS+KAPUTT, Christine Konig Galerie, Vienna; 1996 Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, retrospective exhibition, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan; Gigantomachies: 1965-1969, New York Kunsthalle; 1994-96 War and Memory, Nancy Spero and Leon Golub retrospective exhibition and To The Revolution, wall installation, The American Center, Paris and MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1994 The First Language & The Black and The Red, with wall installation, retrospective exhibition, Malmö Konsthal, Sweden; 1992 Leon Golub Paintings 1987-92, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; An Incident, Musée D'Art Contemporaine de Montréal, Quebec; 1988 The Saatchi Collection, London; 1985 Currents, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; 1984 Golub, Retrospective Exhibition, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (travelling to La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston); 1974 Museum of Contemporary Art, retrospective exhibition, Chicago; SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2002 Documenta XI, Kassel; 2001 Markers, Venice Biennale; 2000 Kwangju Biennale 2000, Korea; 1987 The Castle, Documenta 8, Kassel; 1964 Documenta III, Kassel.
Leon Golub first came to prominence during the 1950s as a part of the Monster Roster, whose work depicted monsters and human/animal hybrids. At this time he realized that contrary to the tenets of the prevailing Abstract Expressionists, representation of actions and events was crucial in experiencing the modern world. Leon Golub and Nancy Spero were leading figures in activist artists' groups such as Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Vietnam (1960s-70s) and Artists Call Against American Intervention in Latin America (1980s).
Leon Golub's work is about power and the recurring misuse of power through violence as an expression of organized, often state-sponsored, oppression and brutality. A fundamental tension is at the heart of his paintings, a tension between the figures and the canvas as well as between the role of the artist and the wider background of society. Golub described his work as "a definition of how power is demonstrated through the body and in human actions, and in our time, how political and industrial powers are shown...“
In the Napalm series, produced during Vietnam war, the body emerged as the symbol of conflict - the central source of pain and distress. The relationships between black and white soldiers in the Vietnam and Mercenaries paintings echo the racial tensions in the US. The Mercenaries and White Squad series, begun in 1979, reference the subversion of war into acts of terrorism and torture, seen by many as linked with America's interventionist foreign policy, while the Riot paintings illustrate the violence in urban everyday-life.
In his last years Leon Golub broke with structured, confrontational images, but his language still remained sardonic. Dogs, lions, and cyborgs are now representing elements of aggression, the eerie, and irrational.
"I have pictured some of the events and some of the kinds of experiences that undercut our current world pictures, that is to say the effects of power and domination, the uses of interrogation to control dissidence or opposition, how such behaviours effect the consciousness and psychic responses of victimizers and victims and also to indicate some of the public and private behavioral gestures of men acting out real time reactive scenarios." (Leon Golub)
(quot. Leon Golub 1948-1996, Do Paintings Bite?, ed. by HU Obrist, Cantz 1997 and Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2000)