Howardena Pindell with her work at Garth Greenan Gallery by Alex John Beck for Artsy.
Howardena Pindell, Carnival: Bahia, Brazil, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
Since the 1960s, Howardena Pindell has forced a “seat at the table” by exploding the traditions of painting. Working with unconventional materials like glitter, talcum powder, and perfume, the African-American artist affixes her unstretched canvases to the wall with nails in a relaxed and sumptuous pose. These tactile paintings underlie the labor-intensive practices that the artist employs to make them: Whole canvases are composed of obsessively hole-punched paper dots, or violently cut and sewn back together. However abstract or conceptual, Pindell’s work addresses personal, political, and social issues.
Pindell has always exhibited widely, but at 76 years old, she’s having her biggest moment yet. The major 2018–19 traveling retrospective “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen” covered five decades of her career. Some of her more overtly political works have been on view at the Brooklyn Museum, in two searing group exhibitions showcasing the powerful contributions of black artists to the creative American landscape: “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–1985” (2017) and “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983” (2018–19), the latter organized by Tate Modern. Pindell has long been represented by New York dealer Garth Greenan and was also picked up by powerhouse London gallerist Victoria Miro in January 2019.
Installation view of “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 2018. Courtesy of Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.
Since 1979, Pindell has taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, on Long Island. As Studio Museum in Harlem associate curator Connie Choi said, Pindell’s “commitment to both expanding the field of painting and lending her voice as an activist has made an indelible mark on the artistic canon, and profoundly influenced several generations of artists and thinkers.”