Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen

  • An oval composition is composed of numerous colorful circles that overlap and jut out  in different directions from a dark background.
  • A beige, textured surface covered in small circles is accented with hints of blue, orange, and red paint.
  • A rectangular, primarily beige surface is mottled with many other small areas of color, including light blue, light purple, light green, orange, and crimson.
  • Irregular ovals in different shades of yellow and orange and interspersed with muted green, blue, and pink ovals cover a brownish orange background marked with faint grid lines.
  • Multiple neutral-colored and numbered hole punches lie speckled across a rectangular surface.
  • The grainy image of an outstretched person seen in profile against a blue background is covered with numbered black arrows and dots in a seemingly chaotic order.
  • A hockey goalie defends a goal as two other players are blurred in motion behind the goal. Dozens of marks including arrows, circles, numbers, and brackets appear to be hand-drawn over the entirety of the image.
  • A tall, human-like form wearing white robes, surrounded by multiple other humanoid figures, stands in front of a red, blue, and white building. Dozens of marks including arrows, dark red dots, and numbers appear to be hand-drawn over the entirety of the image.
  • In this grainy image, a woman with a black afro is shown wrapping her face with a white bandage.
  • A blue collage depicts a crowned woman in a pink sari who stands in a large flower surrounded by three elephant heads, golden lamps, and other ornamental patterns.
  • A vertical painting with a blue background includes a large human form at its center, surrounded and partially covered by smaller images of eyes, faces, and hands. These smaller images appear collage-like, as if cut from other sources.
  • Two flag-like rectangles—on the left light gray and on the right dark gray—hang vertically side by side, each with fourteen rows of vertically stacked first names.
  • A collage of circles of various sizes and colors are clustered together.
  • A light blue, imperfect rectangle is covered with circles, ovals, and spiraling dots that blend into the background yet appear to sit on the surface.
An oval composition is composed of numerous colorful circles that overlap and jut out  in different directions from a dark background.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled #5B (Krakatoa), 2007. Mixed media on paper collage; 13 × 22 × 4 in. Garth Greenan Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A beige, textured surface covered in small circles is accented with hints of blue, orange, and red paint.
  1. Long The frame is filled with dozens of small, circular cutouts that create a textured landscape. The cutouts, which resemble hole punches, are layered on the surface in seeming chaos and affixed by thick layers of paint, though some seem to float above the surface to create slight shadows. The paint is the color of a pale beige skin tone but streaks of sky blue and orange and even specks of near-black appear lightly scattered across the surface.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled #20 (Dutch Wives Circled and Squared) (detail), 1978. Mixed media on canvas; 86 × 110 in. (218.4 × 279.4 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Albert A. Robin by exchange, 2014.15. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A rectangular, primarily beige surface is mottled with many other small areas of color, including light blue, light purple, light green, orange, and crimson.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled #20 (Dutch Wives Circled and Squared), 1978. Mixed media on canvas; 86 × 110 in. (218.4 × 279.4 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Albert A. Robin by exchange, 2014.15. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
Irregular ovals in different shades of yellow and orange and interspersed with muted green, blue, and pink ovals cover a brownish orange background marked with faint grid lines.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled, c. 1968. Acrylic and cray-pas on canvas; 46 × 42 in. Garth Greenan Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
Multiple neutral-colored and numbered hole punches lie speckled across a rectangular surface.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled #58, 1974. Mixed media on board; 5 × 8 in. Collection of James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach, New York. Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
The grainy image of an outstretched person seen in profile against a blue background is covered with numbered black arrows and dots in a seemingly chaotic order.
Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Swimming, 1975. Chromogenic development print; framed: 13 15/16 × 16 1/16 in. (35.4 × 40.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Anixter Art Acquisition Fund, 2016.6. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A hockey goalie defends a goal as two other players are blurred in motion behind the goal. Dozens of marks including arrows, circles, numbers, and brackets appear to be hand-drawn over the entirety of the image.
Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Hockey, 1975. Chromogenic development print; framed: 13 15/16 × 16 1/16 in. (35.4 × 40.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Anixter Art Acquisition Fund, 2016.7. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A tall, human-like form wearing white robes, surrounded by multiple other humanoid figures, stands in front of a red, blue, and white building. Dozens of marks including arrows, dark red dots, and numbers appear to be hand-drawn over the entirety of the image.
Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Abstract, 1976. Chromogenic development print; framed: 13 ¼ × 16 in. (33.7 × 40.6 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Anixter Art Acquisition Fund, 2016.8. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
In this grainy image, a woman with a black afro is shown wrapping her face with a white bandage.
Howardena Pindell, Free, White and 21, 1980. Videotape (color, sound). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Garth Greenan and Bryan Davidson Blue, 2014.22. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A blue collage depicts a crowned woman in a pink sari who stands in a large flower surrounded by three elephant heads, golden lamps, and other ornamental patterns.
Howardena Pindell, Autobiography: India (Lakshmi) (detail), 1984. Mixed media on board; 33 × 19 × 20 in. Garth Greenan Gallery. Photo courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A vertical painting with a blue background includes a large human form at its center, surrounded and partially covered by smaller images of eyes, faces, and hands. These smaller images appear collage-like, as if cut from other sources.
  1. Long A painting with collaged elements features an outline of a woman with many upraised arms who is centered on a canvas shaped like a rectangle with rounded corners. She stands on a short block at very bottom of the picture. The hashed paint marks are predominantly blue, in a gradient of dark on the left to lighter on the right. Her face is painted a pale gray with dark, receding eyes. The textured surface of the painting contrasts with the more finely rendered face of the figure. The scattered collaged elements of varied size and shape include faces, hands, and eyes that appear to be roughly cut from magazines. These elements float on top of the background and the figure. In the lower left of the image is an aerial view of a ship form that is a flat white. Faintly visible in the lower right corner is a painted-over text referring to laws of enslavement and a gray rectangle with the phrase "SEPARATE BUT EQUAL."
Howardena Pindell, Autobiography: Water (Ancestors/Middle Passage/Family Ghosts), 1988. Mixed media on canvas; 118 × 71 in. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund. Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
Two flag-like rectangles—on the left light gray and on the right dark gray—hang vertically side by side, each with fourteen rows of vertically stacked first names.
  1. Long Two vertical rectangles are side by side. The rectangle on the left is a light gray and the one on the right is dark gray. They both feature a red stripe on their right edge as well as dozens of names like "DWIGHT," "CANDELO," "NATALIE," and "JESUS" written vertically.
Howardena Pindell, Separate but Equal Genocide: AIDS, 1991–92. Mixed media on canvas; 75 ½ x 91 in. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A collage of circles of various sizes and colors are clustered together.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled #4D, 2009. Mixed media on paper collage; 7 × 10 in. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
A light blue, imperfect rectangle is covered with circles, ovals, and spiraling dots that blend into the background yet appear to sit on the surface.
Howardena Pindell, Night Flight, 2015–16. Mixed media on canvas; 75 × 63 in. Garth Greenan Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

About

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is proud to present the first major survey of the work of groundbreaking, multidisciplinary artist Howardena Pindell (American, b. 1943). The exhibition spans the New York–based artist’s five-decades-long career, featuring early figurative paintings, pure abstraction and conceptual works, and personal and political art that emerged in the aftermath of a life-threatening car accident in 1979. The exhibition traces themes and visual experiments that run throughout Pindell’s work up to the present.

Trained as a painter, Pindell has challenged the staid traditions of the art world and asserted her place in its history as a woman and one of African descent. Since the 1960s, she has used materials such as glitter, talcum powder, and perfume to stretch the boundaries of the rigid tradition of rectangular, canvas painting. She has also infused her work with traces of her labor, such as obsessively affixing dots of pigment and circles made with an ordinary hole-punch. Despite the effort exerted in the creation of these paintings, Pindell’s use of rich colors and unconventional materials gives the finished works a sumptuous and ethereal quality.

The work she has created since 1979, when the accident left her with short-term amnesia, engages the world beyond the painting studio. Expanding on the experimental formal language she previously developed, Pindell has explored a wide range of subject matter, from the personal and diaristic to the social and political. Her Autobiography series transforms postcards from her global travels, which she used to reconstruct her memories, into photo-based collages. Other bodies of work, such as her Rambo series, respond to broader cultural concerns and critique sexism, racism, and discrimination at large.

The exhibition also highlights Pindell’s work with photography, film, and performance, media she has used to explore her place in the world. Her chance-based experiments include photographing her drawings juxtaposed over a television screen, as well as creating Free, White and 21 (1980), a performance for film based on her personal experiences of racism. The exhibition also includes Pindell’s most recent works from the last two years, which draw on the beauty and innovation of her approach to abstraction to build upon contemporary conversations around equity and diversity.

Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen is cocurated by Naomi Beckwith, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the MCA, and Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art on the museum’s fourth floor. It travels to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts August 25–November 25, 2018.

Funding

Lead support for Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; Kenneth C. Griffin; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and Marilyn and Larry Fields.

Major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Terra Foundation for American Art, Charlotte Cramer Wagner and Herbert S. Wagner III of the Wagner Foundation, and Liz and Eric Lefkofsky.

Generous support is provided by Nathan Cummings Foundation, with the support and encouragement of Jane Saks; Mr. and Mrs. Lee Broughton; Garth Greenan Gallery; Agnes Gund; Anonymous; Heiji and Brian Black; Lester N. Coney and Mesirow Financial; Ashlee Jacob; Nickol and Darrel Hackett; Denise and Gary Gardner; Vicki and Bill Hood; Bernard I. Lumpkin and Carmine D. Boccuzzi; Cheryl Mayberry McKissack and Eric McKissack; Jeanne and Kevin Poorman; Desirée and Victoria Rogers; Miyoung E. Lee; Dr. John E. Ellis; Cathy Ross and Chris Liguori; and Lloyd A. Fry Foundation.