“My quest is for the simplest of pictorial resolutions.”
Carmen Herrera (b. Havana, Cuba, 1915) has come to well-deserved acclaim in the past two decades for her reductive yet vibrant geometric abstractions which explore the notion of the painting as an object integrated into its surroundings. Born in Cuba, she trained as an architect, though her studies were interrupted as a result of political unrest. She married American Jesse Loewenthal and they moved to New York, where she attended the Arts Students League before moving to Paris in 1948. While in Paris, Herrera was exposed to the work of Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, and the Russian Suprematists. Herrera began to restrict her palette to only two or three colors and to experiment with harder edges. Though she exhibited in group shows in Paris alongside artists such as Theo van Doesburg, Josef Albers, Sonia Delaunay, and Jean Arp, none of her work sold, and eventually she and her husband returned to New York in 1953 during the age of abstract expressionism’s dominance. The artist’s work became more minimal and rational at this time. Though Herrera became friends with artists such as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Leon Polk Smith, she faced a great deal of discrimination as both a woman and an immigrant, in one case being told the only reason she wasn’t included in a show was a result of her gender. She sold her first work in 2004 at the age of 89. Today, she now enjoys much-deserved global success for her paintings, prints, and sculptures, continuing to work daily in her apartment in New York.