Collection 1950s–1970s


Nancy Spero’s Notes in Time

Through Winter


Nancy Spero. Notes in Time. 1979. Cut-and-pasted painted paper, gouache, and pencil on joined sheets of paper. Gift of Harriet and Rick Meyer. © 2022 Nancy Spero
  • MoMA, Floor 4, 416 The David Geffen Galleries

In the 1970s, upon becoming active in the feminist movement, Nancy Spero began a sustained exploration of the place of women in history, which culminated with Notes in Time. She considered this work to be celebratory—about the “liberation of women’s spirits, minds, and bod[ies].” To make it, she combined images and text in a procession, creating a friezelike narrative that reflects the fragmented nature of historical records. Dense with references, Notes in Time presents a feminist view of human history at a monumental scale.

The work unfolds across twenty-four panels, which Spero altered using drawing, printing, and collage. Archetypal figures are interspersed among quotes from a range of sources, including fifteenth-century theological texts on women, twentieth-century writings on female sexuality, and modernist poetry. “I decided the figures were hieroglyphs,” Spero explained. “I used text along with image, as extensions of each other, at times in opposition, but always in relation to each other, even if contradictory.

Organized by Christophe Cherix, The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints, with Danielle Johnson, former Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.

1 work online


Installation images

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