Notes from the Catalogue: Howardena Pindell

Howardena Pindell is among the contemporary artists included in our April 4, 2019 sale of African-American Fine Art. Her work explores texture, color and structures often incorporating punched circles and grids, as well as employing a lengthy, metaphorical process of destruction/reconstruction in the creation process. On March 23, 2019 she was interviewed by the New York Times for an article about older African-American artists whose careers have taken off in recent years.


Untitled #1, 1980-81

Pindell first engaged with hole-punched circles by counting and numbering each one, then placing them over a gridded form–often the lines of graph paper–and then adding embellishments such as acrylic, watercolor, glitter and even baby powder, which can be seen in Untitled #1, 1980-81. Her inspiration in numbers and grids grew from her father, a mathematician who often wrote down figures in a gridded journal.


A mixed media paper collage with nails, glitter, thread and a wolf plastic figurine by Howardena Pindell.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled #1, mixed media on paper collage with nails, glitter, thread & a wolf plastic figurine, 1980-81. Sold for $47,500.


In the work above she collages images of monuments with various postcard images of the Seattle Space Needle and Washington D.C.’s Capital Hill, employing her use of a grid that becomes lavishly intricate with glitter, nails and small fragments of paper.


Untitled, 1970

This untitled work on paper is an excellent and scarce example from 1970. From 1968-72, Pindell created refined abstract compositions of ovals and circles on paper and canvas before her celebrated punched-hole collaged compositions.


A green pencil acrylic & colored pencil work on graph paper, which includes multicolored ovals and circles by Howardena Pindell.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled, pencil, acrylic & colored pencil on graph paper, 1970. Sold for $42,500.


This significant period is highlighted in the recent traveling retrospective, Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and curated by Naomi Beckwith and Valerie Cassel Oliver.


Untitled, 1976

Also included in the sale is an untitled color lithograph with chine collé from the A.I.R. Print Portfolio, 1976. A.I.R. Gallery was the first all-female artists cooperative in the United States, founded in 1972 by Pindell and 19 other artists.


Color lithograoh with chine collé by Howardena Pindell, which features numerous arrows, numbers, dots, and Xs.
Howardena Pindell, Untitled, 1976, color lithograph with chine collé, 1976. Sold for $5,750.


In 2013 Swann set the current auction record for Pindell with Untitled #56, 2010, a vibrant green work of punched papers, watercolor, gouache, open bite etching, archival glue and Swiss thread on rag board selling for $43,750.

Related Reading: Augusta Savage to Zoë Charlton: Women of Color at Auction and A Contemporary Collection Highlights African-American Women.

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