Nancy Spero

IN THE EARLY 1960s NANCY Spero painted a series of Stygian lovers: they are paintings of great intensity, but the present phase of her art begins after this. When she switched from painting on canvas to working on paper, her particular sensibility meshed with an appropriate method of work. She replaced whole forms masked in chiaroscuro with ideographic signs that released her power of linear definition. She made a series of war drawings, which is to say antiwar drawings: the first cycle concentrated on the A-bomb, the second on helicopters that “looked like very primitive bugs,” to quote the artist. On one hand the insectlike appearance of helicopters is familiar and has a popular sanction. On the other hand, Spero intensifies the metaphor far beyond its technological wit: the occasion of these works is the Vietnam war, so that she implies the perspective of the victims faced with and

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