Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen

  • A beige, textured surface covered in small circles is accented with hints of blue, orange, and red paint.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
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 of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
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 of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
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.
Howardena Pindell, Autobiography: India (Lakshmi) (detail), 1984. Mixed media on board; 33 × 19 × 20 in. Garth Greenan Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
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.
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.
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.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled #4D, 2009. Mixed media on paper collage; 7 × 10 in. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
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, mediums 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.

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, Heiji and Brian Black; Lester N. Coney and Mesirow Financial; Ashlee Jacob; Nickol and Darrel Hackett; Denise and Gary Gardner; Vicki and Bill Hood; Cheryl Mayberry McKissack and Eric McKissack; Jeanne and Kevin Poorman; Desirée and Victoria Rogers; Dr. John E. Ellis; Cathy Ross and Chris Liguori; and Lloyd A. Fry Foundation.