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b. 1915, Cuba

Carmen Herrera Biography

Core to Carmen Herrera’s painting is a drive for formal simplicity and a striking sense of colour: “My quest”, she says, “is for the simplest of pictorial resolutions” (2012). A master of crisp lines and contrasting chromatic planes, Herrera creates symmetry, asymmetry and an infinite variety of movement, rhythm and spatial tension across the canvas with the most unobtrusive application of paint. As she moved towards pure, geometric abstraction in the post-war years in Paris, she exhibited alongside Theo van Doesburg, Max Bill and Piet Mondrian and a younger generation of Latin American artists, such as members of the Venezuelan Los Disidentes, Brazilian Concretists and the Argentinian Grupo Madi. Her work also chimed with painters from the US school such as Barnett Newman, Leon Polk Smith and Ellsworth Kelly. Reflecting on this period, she says, “I began a lifelong process of purification, a process of taking away what isn’t essential” (2005). While allied with Latin American non-representational concrete painting, Herrera’s body of work has established, quietly but steadily, a cross-cultural dialogue within the international history of modernist abstraction.

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Carmen Herrera was born in Havana, Cuba in 1915. She moved frequently between France and Cuba throughout the 1930s and 1940s; having started studying architecture at the Universidad de La Habana, Havana (1937–38), she trained at the Art Students League, New York (1943–45), before exhibiting four times at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1949–53). She settled in New York in 1954, where she continues to live and work. Herrera’s paintings were the subject of a large-scale survey at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK in 2009; she has also had solo exhibitions at Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, (2010) and Museo del Barrio, New York (1998). She has been included in the group shows ‘Order, Chaos and the Space Between’ at the Phoenix Museum of Art, Arizona (2013) and ‘The Geometric Unconscious: A Century of Abstraction’, Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska (2012). She was awarded a fellowship from the Cintas Foundation, New York (1966–68) and a grant by the Creative Artists Public Service, New York (1977). Her work is in numerous public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Collection, London; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Text courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Carmen Herrera Featured Artworks

Untitled by Carmen Herrera contemporary artwork
Carmen HerreraUntitled, 2012Acrylic, black gesso and pencil on paper
70 x 100 cm
Lisson Gallery Enquire about this work

Carmen Herrera Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Carmen Herrera, Estructuras at Lisson Gallery, New York
14 September–27 October 2018 Carmen Herrera Estructuras Lisson Gallery, West 24th Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Carmen Herrera, Carmen Herrera at Lisson Gallery, London
25 November 2017–17 February 2018 Carmen Herrera Lisson Gallery, Bell Street, London

Carmen Herrera Represented By

Carmen Herrera In Related Press

The Colors of the Sixties Related Press The Colors of the Sixties 6 April 2019, Hyperallergic

The eighth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, as David Breslin, the Director of the Collection, sees it, is 'a place for surprises.' The elegant spaces of the museum's top floor, catching the light off the river through its skylights and glass walls, have felt enchanted ever since it opened in 2015 with the Early Modernist 'Forms...

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A passionate visual idiom: Carmen Herrera at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Related Press A passionate visual idiom: Carmen Herrera at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 24 October 2016, Artcritical

This exhibition is focused on a relatively short segment of Carmen Herrera’s long career (she is now 101), namely 1948 to 1978. It presents her painting in Paris during the years immediately after World War Two, and then her development when she moved to New York. In the first gallery you find Siete (1949), a relatively small painting with...

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Lisson Gallery reveals May opening date, programming for first New York Space Related Press Lisson Gallery reveals May opening date, programming for first New York Space 13 February 2016, ArtNews

Nearly two years after first announcing plans to open a gallery space in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood—right under the world-famous High Line—the London-based Lisson Gallery revealed an opening date, the architectural renderings, and the space’s programming for 2016 at a press conference at The Standard in the Meatpacking...

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