Lisson Gallery

Carmen Herrera

Core to Carmen Herrera’s (1915 - 2022) painting is a drive for formal simplicity and a striking sense of colour: “My quest”, she said, “is for the simplest of pictorial resolutions” (2012). A master of crisp lines and contrasting chromatic planes, Herrera created 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 chimes with her peers from the U.S. school such as Barnett Newman and Leon Polk Smith. Reflecting on this period, she said, “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 established, quietly but steadily, a cross-cultural dialogue within the international history of modernist abstraction.

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, Cuba (1938–39), she trained at the Art Students League, New York, NY, USA (1942–43), before exhibiting five times at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1949–53). She settled in New York in 1954, where she lived and worked until her death in 2022. Herrera’s work was the subject of a large-scale survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2017), which traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (2017) and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (K20) in Düsseldorf, Germany (2017–2018). A selection of Herrera’s recent paintings and Estructuras inaugurated Lisson Gallery New York’s 24th Street exhibition space in May 2016. The last two years were marked by two major mural commissions for the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX and the Publicolor Community Museum for the Manhattan East School of Arts in Harlem, NY. Herrera has also had significant solo exhibitions at the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany (2010); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2009); and Museo del Barrio, New York, NY, USA (1998). She has been included in the group shows at Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2021); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2021); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2019); Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France (2018); The Underground Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2017); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2016); Phoenix Museum of Art, AZ, USA (2013); and Sheldon Museum of Art, NE, USA (2012), among others. Her work was recently featured in the exhibition Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (17 December 2018 – 4 February 2020). In the past year, two major solo presentations were exhibited in Houston, Texas — Carmen Herrera: Structuring Surfaces at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (21 October 2020 – 25 April 2021) and Estructuras Monumentales at Buffalo Bayou Park (22 October 2020 – 23 April 2021). Herrera premiered her Estructuras Monuentales, massive aluminium structures largely conceived in the 1960s and 1970s, at City Hall Park in New York City in 2019, organised by the Public Art Fund (11 July – 8 November 2019).

Herrera was awarded two fellowships from the Cintas Foundation, New York, NY, USA (1966–68) and a grant by the Creative Artists Public Service, New York, NY, USA (1977). Her work is in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA; El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY, USA; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC, USA; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, USA; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA; the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL, USA; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA, USA; Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR, USA; the Tate Collection, London, UK; Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (K20), Düsseldorf, Germany; and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

 

Current & Recent Projects:

'Carmen Herrera: Estructura Verde', Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), CA, USA, 9 October 2021 - 13 February 2022

'Carmen Herrera: Untitled Estructura (Red)', Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition, The Helis Foundation, New Orleans, LA, USA

'Women in Abstraction', Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, 22 October 2021 - 27 February 2022

 

Ariel

Carmen Herrera
Ariel

2006
Acrylic on Canvas
Painting: 91.4 x 91.4 cm | 36 x 36 in
Installed: 132.1 x 132.1 cm | 52 x 52 in

Angulo Blanco

Carmen Herrera
Angulo Blanco

2017
Acrylic and aluminium
213.4 x 307 x 48.3 cm
84 x 120 7/8 x 19 in

Estructuras Monumentales

Carmen Herrera
Estructuras Monumentales

2020-2021
Installation image
Buffalo Bayou Park
Houston, TX, USA

Black & Orange

Carmen Herrera
Black & Orange

1989
Acrylic on canvas
106.7 x 106.7 cm 
42 x 42 in

Escorial

Carmen Herrera
Escorial

1974
Acrylic on Canvas
152.4 x 106.7 cm
60 x 42 in

Gemini (Red)

Carmen Herrera
Gemini (Red)

1971/2019
Acrylic and aluminium
84.5 x 152.1 x 15.2 cm
33 1/4 x 59 7/8 x 6 in

Gemini (Red)

Carmen Herrera
Gemini (Red)

1971/2019
Detail

Green Garden

Carmen Herrera
Green Garden

1950
Acrylic on canvas
45.5 x 60.8 cm
18 x 24 in
Collection of the Tate, London, UK

Amarillo "Uno"

Carmen Herrera
Amarillo "Uno"

1971
Acrylic on wood
114.3 x 152.4 x 7.6 cm
45 x 60 x 3 in

Blanco y Verde

Carmen Herrera
Blanco y Verde

1959
Acrylic on canvas
172.7 x 152.4 cm
68 x 60 in
Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, USA

Iberic

Carmen Herrera
Iberic

1949
Acrylic on canvas on board
101.6 cm diameter
40 in diameter
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, USA

Untitled

Carmen Herrera
Untitled

2016
Acrylic on paper
76.2 x 55.9 cm
30 x 22 in

Pavanne (Green)

Carmen Herrera
Pavanne (Green)

1967/2016
Acrylic and aluminium
91.4 x 91.4 x 60.9 cm
35 7/8 x 35 7/8 x 23 7/8 in
Edition of 1 + 1AP

Black and White

Carmen Herrera
Black and White

1987
Acrylic on canvas
182.9 x 152.4 cm
72 x 60 in

Rondo (Blue and Yellow)

Carmen Herrera
Rondo (Blue and Yellow)

1965
Acrylic on canvas
100 cm diameter
39 3/8 in diameter
Collection of the Hirshhorn Musuem 

Estructura Verde

Carmen Herrera
Estructura Verde

1966/2018
Acrylic and aluminium
213.4 x 373.7 x 26.7 cm
84 x 147 1/8 x 10 1/2 in
Edition of 1 + 1 AP
Currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, USA

Alpes

Carmen Herrera
Alpes

2015
Acrylic on canvas
304.8 x 182.8 cm
72 x 120 in
Collection of K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany

Exhibitions

  1. Carmen Herrera, The 1970s: Part 1

    Carmen Herrera, The 1970s: Part 1

    4 May – 11 June 2022

  2. Selected Works

    Selected Works

    16 February – 24 April 2021

  3. Carmen Herrera: Painting in Process

    Carmen Herrera: Painting in Process

    10 September – 17 October 2020

  4. Carmen Herrera

    Carmen Herrera

    6 August – 10 August 2020

  5. Art Basel Online Viewing Rooms: Memories of Elsewhere

    Art Basel Online Viewing Rooms: Memories o...

    16 June – 28 June 2020

  6. Carmen Herrera: Estructuras

    Carmen Herrera: Estructuras

    14 September – 27 October 2018

  7. Carmen Herrera

    Carmen Herrera

    25 November 2017 – 17 February 2018

  8. Carmen Herrera: Paintings on Paper

    Carmen Herrera: Paintings on Paper

    3 May – 10 June 2017

  9. Carmen Herrera

    Carmen Herrera

    3 May – 11 June 2016

  10. Carmen Herrera: Works on Paper 2010 - 2012

    Carmen Herrera: Works on Paper 2010 - 2012

    25 January – 15 March 2013

  11. Carmen Herrera

    Carmen Herrera

    1 February – 3 March 2012

  12. Peter Joseph and Carmen Herrera

    Peter Joseph and Carmen Herrera

    23 November 2010 – 29 January 2011

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