The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 27, 2024

Codex Artaud XXI

Codex Artaud XXI

(American, 1926–2009)
Sheet: 173.4 x 52.6 cm (68 1/4 x 20 11/16 in.)
© The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Location: not on view


Spero’s Codex Artaud is comprised of a series of 34 scrolls uniting texts by Antoine Artaud, the French actor, playwright, and poet of highly allusive writings, with Spero’s decidedly personal, feminist imagery. Codex Artaud XXI presents an extract from one of Artaud’s poems arranged in a pristine array of typed capital letters. Spero’s graphic additions include two converging cross-hatched triangles, a tiny woman riding a rat, and a heroic male nude holding a sword. The male figure, which occupies the bottom of the sheet, references Benvenuto Cellini’s sculpture Perseus Beheading Medusa (1545-54), a quintessential Renaissance subject concerned with the silencing of a powerful woman. By combining the writings of a poet who was considered an outcast and a madman with a specifically female pictorial language, Spero created a body of work that was to inspire future generations of feminist artists.
  • Baum, Kelly, Lucy Bradnock, and Tina Rivers Ryan. Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980. 2017. Pl. 85
    Cleveland Museum of Art. The CMA Companion: A Guide to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2014. Mentioned and reproduced: P. 168
  • Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980. The Met Breuer, New York, NY (September 13, 2017-January 14, 2018).
    The Met Breuer, New York, NY (9/13/2017 - 1/14/2018)" :Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980" pl. 85.
  • {{cite web|title=Codex Artaud XXI|url=false|author=Nancy Spero|year=1972|access-date=27 February 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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