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Aspen Art Museum


Howardena Pindell

Tesseract #6
Acrylic on canvas
65 x 95 in (165 x 241 cm)
Kindly donated by the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York
Estimate: $400,000–$500,000

About this Work

Back in the 1970s when Howardena Pindell began making paintings, she was drawn to the circle. Armed with a handmade, rudimentary stencil, made with a hole punch, she began to cover the canvases with spherical forms. The exquisite new painting by Pindell, Tesseract # 6, is a direct descendent of this early work. The large canvas is densely covered in tiny circles; burnt orange and sugary pink, dominate, as they merge with deep purple and vibrant turquoise. Shadowy shapes appear to float in space. It is as if light shines down from a central source above, casting a warm glow on this otherworldly backdrop.

Having studied painting at university, over time Pindell’s work expanded into other media, including film, and throughout her career she has simultaneously embraced the roles of artist, teacher and activist. Drawing on her own experience and the world around her, she uses her work to confront subjects head on, including racism, police brutality, war, sexism, AIDS and climate change.

Pindell has described her abstract work as “a kind of visual healing” and of her predilection for circles she has said: “Circles are an iconic form: the sun, the moon, the Earth, the planets. After I started using them in my work, I remembered a time drinking root beer with my dad as a child. It was during segregation, when it was court-mandated that utensils had to be designated whether someone of color could use them; they painted huge red dots under the mugs.” And so, beneath the calm beauty of these paintings lies a subtle edge and an unexpected poignancy.

About the Artist

Howardena Pindell (b. 1943, Philadelphia) often employs lengthy, metaphorical processes of destruction/reconstruction. She cuts canvases in strips and sews them back together, building up surfaces in elaborate stages. She paints or draws on sheets of paper, punches out dots from the paper using a paper hole punch, drops the dots onto her canvas, and finally squeegees paint through the “stencil” left in the paper from which she had punched the dots. Almost invariably, her paintings are installed unstretched, held to the wall merely by the strength of a few finishing nails. The artist’s fascination with gridded, serialized imagery, along with surface texture appears throughout her oeuvre. Even in her later, more politically charged work, Pindell reverts to these thematic focuses in order to address social issues of homelessness, AIDs, war, genocide, sexism, xenophobia, and apartheid.

Pindell studied painting at Boston University and Yale University. After graduating, she accepted a job at the Museum of Modern Art, where she worked for 12 years (1967–1979), first as Exhibition Assistant, then as Assistant Curator in the Department of National and International Traveling Exhibitions, and finally as an Associate Curator and Acting Director in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books. In 1979, she began teaching at the State University of New York, Stony Brook where she is now a Distinguished Professor. Throughout her career, Pindell has exhibited extensively. Notable solo-exhibitions include: Spelman College (1971, Atlanta), A.I.R. Gallery (1973, 1983, New York), Just Above Midtown (1977, New York), Lerner-Heller Gallery (1980, 1981, New York), The Studio Museum in Harlem (1986, New York), the Wadsworth Atheneum (1989, Hartford), Cyrus Gallery (1989, New York), G.R. N’Namdi Gallery (1992, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2006, Chicago, Detroit, and New York), Garth Greenan Gallery, New York (2014, 2017, 2019), Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2015) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2018).

How to Bid:

Bidding on this work takes place at the ArtCrush gala on Friday, August 4th, at 8pm MT. Absentee and telephone bidding available - please contact for more information, including a condition report.

There is no Buyer’s Premium and the difference between the mid-estimate and the winning bid is a tax deductible donation to the museum.