Nancy Spero (August 24, 1926 – October 18, 2009) was an American visual artist. She received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1949), and honorary doctorates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1991) and Williams College (2001). 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 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.
Her work since the 1960s is an unapologetic statement against the pervasive abuse of power, Western privilege, and male dominance. Spero was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2006). Awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association (2005); the Honor Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art (2003); the Hiroshima Art Prize (jointly with Leon Golub, 1996); and the Skowhegan Medal (1995). Major exhibitions include Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela (2003); Massachusetts Institute of Technology, List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (1994); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1994); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1992); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1988). Spero lived and worked in New York, where she died in October 2009.