Carmen Herrera at SITE Santa Fe, NM, USA
10 October 2023
Running from 1 March – 16 September 2024, SITE Santa Fe presents a solo exhibition of painting and sculpture by Carmen Herrera.
Core to Carmen Herrera’s painting was 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 away from biomorphism towards pure, geometric abstraction during her time in Paris in the later 1940s, she began making shaped, elliptical and tondo canvases, in addition to pioneering the use of solventbased acrylic paints in post-war Europe. 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.
By the mid-1960s she had experimented with much reduced palettes, pairing black or green with white – “like saying yes and no” – before leaving the picture plane entirely and beginning work on her first Estructuras, a series of sculptural works occupying the wall, floor and the public realm, which also paid homage to her earlier training in architecture. Reflecting on this mid-century period, she said, “I began a lifelong process of purification, a process of taking away what isn’t essential” (2005). Herrera’s growing body of work established, quietly but steadily, a cross-cultural dialogue within the international history of modernist abstraction. Her work also chimes with her peers such as Barnett Newman and Leon Polk Smith. While receiving increasing plaudits and museum recognition later in life, Herrera remained grounded throughout, stating when aged 105 that: “Being ignored is a form of freedom. I felt liberated from having to constantly please anyone.”
Find further information via SITE Santa Fe.