A MONUMENTAL WORK by Howardena Pindell is coming to auction at Christie’s New York this week. “Untitled #24” (1978-79) is a grid-based work composed of several hundred squares painted, sewn together, and embellished with glitter, sequins, and Pindell’s signature hole-punched paper dots.

“Untitled #24” is the largest painting by Pindell to come to auction. Measuring about 7 by 8.5 feet, the work is composed of 320 sections—a grid of 16 vertical by 20 horizontal squares. A textural, abstract painting, the work is executed in a muted vanilla hue highlighted throughout with a spectrum of sherbet tones, evincing an otherworldly landscape.


HOWARDENA PINDELL (Born 1943), Detail of “Untitled #24,” 1978-79 (acrylic, paper, powder, sequins and glitter on sewn canvas squares, 86 1⁄2 x 103 inches / 219.7 x 261.6 cm). | © Howardena Pindell

 

Offered at Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale on May 12 in New York, the painting is estimated to sell for $300,000 to $500,000 and therefore poised to establish a new auction record for Pindell.

Her current benchmark was set at Swann Auction Galleries in New York on Oct. 7, 2021, when “Untitled #57” (1974-75) sold for $137,000, nearly three times the estimate ($30,000-$40,000). The mixed-media assemblage work housed in a plexiglass box is modest in size (8 1/4 x 12 1/2 inches) compared with the current work, an exponentially larger painting.

BORN IN PHILADELPHIA, Pindell has spent her career in New York. An artist and educator, after earning an MFA from Yale University, she was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art for a dozen years. Today, she is a full professor at SUNY Stony Brook, where she has taught since 1979.

Emphasizing color, structure and process, Pindell’s multidisciplinary practice explores a range of social and political issues, including racism and feminism, often through her own personal experiences. “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen” (2018-19), a traveling retrospective curated by Naomi Beckwith and Valerie Cassel Oliver, brought attention and long overdue recognition of her five-decade career and expansive body of work.

Recently on view through May 2, “Howardena Pindell: A New Language” at Fruitmarket in Edinburgh was the artists first UK show at a public institution.

Pindell discussed her practice in a new video produced by Christie’s. “After I graduated and came to New York, I was exposed to all kinds of art and my work was moving into a kind of abstract expressionism,” she said. “Sometimes I would spray the paper and then draw on it. Eventually that led to me punching holes and then I just started numbering them at random. I call them nonsense numbers, because they have no meaning. I just see them as drawing.”

“After I graduated and came to New York, I was exposed to all kinds of art and my work was moving into a kind of abstract expressionism. Sometimes I would spray the paper and then draw on it. Eventually that led to me punching holes and then I just started numbering them at random.”
— Howardena Pindell


Lot 14C: HOWARDENA PINDELL (Born 1943), “Untitled #24,” 1978-79 (acrylic, paper, powder, sequins and glitter on sewn canvas squares, 86 1⁄2 x 103 inches / 219.7 x 261.6 cm). | Estimate $300,000-$500,0000. SOLD for $1,134,000 fees included. RECORD

 

It’s been four decades since “Untitled #24” was shown publicly. In April 1980, the painting was presented in a solo exhibition of Pindell at Lerner-Heller Gallery in New York. Collectors Norma and William Roth of Winter Haven, Fla., acquired the painting from the gallery that same year.

A few years later, the work was featured in “New Decorative Work from the Collection of Norma and William Roth” (1983), which was on view at Loch Haven Art Center in Orlando and The Jacksonville Art Museum, both in Florida.

In the video, Pindell also explained the methodical process she endeavored to make the current lot. “When I did Untitled 24, I tried first to interweave the canvas. So I would take strips and then you know do that and it was just too heavy for me to handle,” Pindell said.

“So then I decided to draw the grid. I numbered each square and then I put calibration marks and either I used letters or numbers. And I would cut it in sections so that I could do a section at a time, sewing it. But what I noticed and I have kind of stopped doing, I put glitter on other kinds of paintings, the grid work has extruded paint and crystal glitter is fabulous and I think I should really I should go back to that. CT

 

UPDATE (05/12/22): Auction result added – Untitled #24 sold for $1,134,000, smashing Howardena Pindell’s previous auction record which was just north of $100,000. The new record is nearly 10 times her previous benchmark and marks the first time a work by the artist has surpassed $1 million at auction.

 

Sources: Art Price, Christie’s, Swann Auction Galleries. Auction results include Buyer’s Premium fees, unless otherwise noted. Estimates do not include fees

 

FIND MORE about Howardena Pindell on her website

 


Artist Howardena Pindell reflects on her career, artistic methods, and Untitled #24 (1978-79), a large-scale painting hitting the auction block at Christie’s New York on May 12, 2022. | Video by Christie’s

 

FIND MORE The New York Times recently reported on Fairchain, a new tech start-up using digital contracts and certificates of title and authenticity to help artists obtain resale royalties

 

BOOKSHELF
“Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen” documents the artist’s traveling retrospective, which opened at MCA Chicago, traveled to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, and concluded at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. “Howardena Pindell: Rope/Fire/Water” accompanied her recent exhibition at The Shed in New York. The exhibition catalog “Howardena Pindell: Paintings and Drawings: A Retrospective Exhibition 1972-1992 is authored by Lowery Stokes Sims. Also consider, “The Heart of the Question: The Writings and Paintings of Howardena Pindell” and Kellie Jones’s “EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art,” featuring an interview with Howardena Pindell on a range of topics. “Howardena Pindell: Reclaiming Abstraction” is forthcoming in November.

 

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