VICTORIA MIRO has announced its representation of Howardena Pindell. The UK-based gallery is working with the multidiscplinary artist in collaboration with Garth Greenan Gallery, her rep in New York. Pindell’s first exhibition with Victoria Miro is planned for June 2019 in London.
Focusing primarily on abstraction and conceptualism, Pindell engages with personal, political and social issues—from racism and feminism to AIDS and violence.
Over the years, she’s worked across painting, drawing, photography, film and performance. Pindell, whose mixed-media paintings are defined by process, structure, and color, is best known for working with countless tiny paper circles made with a hole punch that she meticulously affixes one-by-one to her works, often in thick layers.
Yesterday, in recognition of her singular career, the College Art Association (CAA) announced Pindell is the recipient of its 2019 Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Meanwhile, her first major survey, “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen,” has brought new and more expansive attention to her 50-year practice. After opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in February 2018, the retrospective traveled to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond last fall, and will be on view next month at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, the final venue.
“It is a pleasure to be working with Howardena Pindell,” Victoria Miro said in the announcement. “Deeply principled, daringly innovative and boldly incisive, Pindell truly embodies the dictum ‘the personal is political.’ Over the past five decades she has worked across painting, drawing, photography, film and performance, and explored a wide range of subject matter, from the autobiographical to social and cultural concerns. Throughout, her work is driven by an experimental approach to materials and united by sensuous detail.”
She further stated that the current retrospective “confirms Pindell’s place in art history.”
BORN IN PHILADELPHIA, Pindell studied painting at Boston University and earned an MFA from Yale University. For 40 years, she’s been teaching at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, where she is a full professor (1979-present). She lives and works in New York City.
An artist, curator, and educator, her multifaceted career began in the late 1960s when she became the first black female curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), a post she held for 12 years (1967-1979). During her tenure at MoMA, Pindell became attuned to racial and gender discrimination at the museum and in the broader field through her own experiences and observations. She would later address the issue, conducting extensive demographic research in the late 1980s.
Pindell surveyed artist representation in New York museums and galleries and documented her findings in Statistics, Testimony, and Supporting Documentation, a paper she published in 1987, and later updated in a follow-up document covering 1986-1997.
IN TERMS OF HER PRACTICE, early on Pindell made figurative paintings before transitioning to abstraction. More political and biographical works emerged in the wake of a life-threatening car accident in 1979. In the years since, she’s had many solo exhibitions, participated in dozens of group shows, and her work is in numerous public and private collections. After five decades, however, Pindell had never had a major survey.
Organized by curators Naomi Beckwith of MCA Chicago and Valerie Cassel Oliver of VMFA, “What Remains to Be Seen” is a sprawling career-spanning exhibition that presents more than 140 works charting the arc of her practice. The show “traces themes and visual experiments that run throughout Pindell’s work” and features large paintings, small framed works, video projects, and a sculptural installation.
IN A RECENT INTERVIEW with Charlotte Burns for Sotheby’s “In Other Words” podcast, Pindell discussed her work, experiences at MoMA, and with A.I.R., the artist-run feminist gallery she co-founded in 1972. She was also asked what it was like to view her work in such a large survey.
“Well, it was kind of a shock,” Pindell said. “I always call myself a message in a bottle, not as in alcohol, but a bottle thrown out to sea and then washes up sometime later. It was really interesting to see all of it gathered under one roof.”
She continued: “It didn’t make me see it differently, it’s just I didn’t realize how large my, you know, large the amount of work. But, it’s 50 years. Yeah, it’s 50 years.
– Victoria L. Valentine