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Original Painting titled “Red Robin” by Helen Hardin [SOLD]


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Helen Hardin (1943-1984) Tsa-Sah-Wee-Eh - Little Standing Spruce
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Santa Clara Pueblo
  • Medium: acrylic on board
  • Size:
    11-5/8" by 8-1/2" image;
    19-1/4” x 16-1/4” framed
  • Item # C4151K
  • SOLD

Helen Hardin (1943-1984) Tsa-Sah-Wee-Eh - Little Standing Spruce was an innovative and influential painter from New Mexico’s Santa Clara Pueblo.  Hardin was born in 1943 to Santa Clara Pueblo painter Pablita Velarde and caucasian civil servant Herbert Hardin. Inspired by her mother, she began creating and selling paintings as a teenager.  She went in a different direction than her mother and her mother’s peers, creating more contemporary works that depicted Native American symbology with striking geometrical patterns and abstract imagery.

Hardin's distinctive and compelling style became more fully realized in the 1970s, with a series of paintings of Katsina figures. These and her later works are immensely complex works of art that have been displayed in museums around the world.   Her personal explorations led her into the deeply affecting works of the very well-known “Woman Series". Much of her work is concerned with the intellectual and physical struggle of her very existence—the struggle of woman versus man, patron versus artist, Indian versus Anglo, tradition versus progression.  Her art is complex and beautiful, at once forward-thinking and firmly rooted in ancient tradition. Hardin was a truly intriguing woman and one of the preeminent American Indian painters of the twentieth century. She died of cancer in 1984, leaving behind her an impressive body of work for her many admirers and collectors to enjoy.

Helen Hardin’s style—a seamless combination of complex modern abstraction with traditional Native imagery—has aged well in the years since her passing, remaining enduringly popular with collectors and influencing the works of many younger artists.  This painting, titled “Red Robin,” is a classic Helen Hardin image that exemplifies this innovate yet accessible style. It is strong in color, its primary subject is elegant and beautiful, and its composition is of the high technical standard that collectors expect of Hardin.

Hardin’s strong color palette is one of this painting’s most notable strengths.  Here, the artist used an atypical combination of colors that feels warm and autumnal.  Her background, near the edges of the piece, is a gorgeous pale orange. Cool blues and greens are introduced strongly but subtly on top of the orange background, creating a circle around the titular robin.  The circle gradually becomes darker and more densely textured as it gets closer to the titular bird. The bird itself, comprised of brown, maroon, and a rich mustard yellow, is made of graceful ovular curves.  These curves line up with the background circle’s lower right side, curving gently alongside the series of colorful lines before curving sharply back upwards, towards the bird’s head. This painting is deceptively complex, with its ovals set on top of circles and warm, fall colors set within cool, aquatic colors.  Hardin was an immensely skilled artist, and “Red Robin” serves as an excellent example of why she remains so highly regarded by collectors and scholars.

Artist Signature and date - Helen Hardin (1943-1984) Tsa-Sah-Wee-Eh - Little Standing Spruce“Red Robin” remains in its original frame, in the style that the artist preferred.  It is signed and dated 1977 in its lower right corner.

Condition: this Original Painting titled "Red Robin" by Helen Hardin is in excellent condition

Provenance: from a resident of Washington who inherited the piece

Recommended Reading: Changing Woman: The Life and Art of Helen Hardin by Jay Scott

Close up view of the bird.