Leon Golub & Nancy Spero
The Fighting Is A Dance, Too
22 April - 3 June, 2000
Andrew Roth is pleased to announce the opening of a two-person exhibition of drawings from the ’60s and ’70s by Leon Golub and Nancy Spero. To accompany the exhibition, we have published Fighting Is A Dance, Too, a limited-edition book with an essay by David Levi Strauss.
On view will be large figure drawings by Golub, made with sanguine conté on vellum and black oil stick on paper, created in the early ’60s as studies for his Gigantomachy paintings of 1965–67. “Up until 1960-61, Golub’s figures had been more or less fixed, presented in mostly frontal poses. After that, he wanted them to move, to put his men into action … Inspiration for these figures was the high-relief frieze on the Great Alter of Zeus at Pergamon. Completed in the second half of the second century B.C., it depicts the war between the Olympian gods and goddesses and the Giants. Golub was attracted not to the classical per se, but to the classical in ruins.” Visually embedded within these figures is a reference to athletes in motion, as are commonly reproduced in contemporary sports magazines. These are some of the earliest examples from Golub’s canon which blend mediated imagery with the classical. Along with his gestural Gigantomachy figures, Golub will exhibit a selection of recent smaller drawings. The heroic brutality illustrated in the earlier works is here replaced with a sardonic irony.
Nancy Spero will present a selection of drawings on paper from 1974 and 1979. The Licit Exp pieces (1974) were inspired by the “Explicit Explanations” that concluded each chapter in an 18th-century Spanish monk’s commentaries on The Book of the Apocalypse, illuminated by Ende and Emerterius in 975 A.D. They consist of drawn or printed figures combined with stamped phrases: smoke lick, knife cut, body count, acid rain, fascist pig, normal love. I Am On My Way Running (1979), a large horizontal scroll collage with painting and typewriting is an “initiation” work. The drawn and printed figure of a woman running, “with her arms extended like wings,” is accompanied by lines from a young girl’s puberty ceremony used by the Papago people: “I am on my way running … looking towards me is the edge of the world …” These collages are early examples of Spero’s “disturbatory art of resistance, and despite its aggressive sparks, it aims at rebuking aggression rather than committing it … It is feminist for its compassion and social responsibility, and it is feminist in the way it deals with human suffering, which reaches sublimation — beyond chauvinist narcissism — in a communion with collective human suffering.” In addition, Spero will create an on-site work, Kali Ma, The Goddess of Destruction, consisting of hand printing on glass on the large window in the gallery.
David Levi Strauss is a frequent contributing writer for Artforum and The Nation. His book Between Dog and Wolf. Essays on Art and Politics was published by Autonomedia/Semiotext(e) in 1999.