In February 2022, Carmen Herrera dies at the age of 106, having gained fame in her 80s when her art work began to sell, finally recognized by the art world. As both a female and Latinx artist, she is a pioneer in the Geometric minimalism artistic movement started in the early 1940s (although mostly ignored) known for her simple lines, forms and colors. I was fortunate to see 50 pieces of her work at the Whitney Museum in NY in 2016 entitled Lines of Sight that showcased the range of her work as far back as 1948.
A Bit of Who is Carmen Herrera
First, her perseverance and commitment to never give up and to continue painting regardless of obstacles thrown at her is truly remarkable. A trailblazer ignored by both American and European institutions over male artists who did not carry an ethnic name or of darker skin. This left her with few options, mostly racial and ethnic specific exhibitions which slowly (very slowly) allowed her to become recognized for her signature style and different modes of geometric abstraction over five decades.
Having lived in Cuba during turbulent times, in Paris immediately after World War II and later in the US during the early 50s until her death, she continued to discover her passion and love for geometric shapes and straight lines pioneering what is now known as minimalism in the art world becoming a leading abstract artist of the 20-21st century. It’s important to note that Carmen is one of many female artists known for their work in the minimalism space, she is actually one of the oldest. These women artists, mostly, struggled to have their work recognized and exhibited throughout much of their lives. Carmen continued to work throughout her 90s and was able to experience her work being purchased internationally by museums and private collectors.
Her passionate persistence and body of work will inspire generations of upcoming artists on what it takes to create or be part of a movement and to never give up. Most likely, she will be always be known as the artist who found fame late in life, in her 80s. But over time, she will also be known for her pioneering work in the field of contemporary and modern art.
As she once said, “I believe that I will always be in awe of the straight line, its beauty is what keeps me painting.”
My photos are of the Whitney Museum exhibition held in 2016-17. Remember to click the center of the photo to see the full view.
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