At the age of 101, Carmen Herrera gets a long-overdue birthday gift at the Whitney.
Guardian angles: Whitney visitors will finally get to witness the full scope of the bold, influential work Carmen Herrera has produced in her lengthy career.
Legend has it that Carmen Herrera didn’t sell her first painting until the age of 89—and this is a woman who counted the likes of Piet Mondrian and Barnett Newman as friends and former classmates. “I was liberated by being ignored,” the Cuban American artist told an interviewer this year, shortly after her 101st birthday. “I was free to do as I wish.” Now, the Whitney Museum of American Art is celebrating Herrera’s determined spirit with a major exhibition of works from the first half of her career (1948 to 1978).
The first section offers a “primer on the early years in Paris,” says Dana Miller, the museum’s Richard DeMartini Family curator, when the young artist distilled her ideas in drawings and on canvas. This period, says Miller, led to Herrera’s “signature style of hard-edged abstraction, which gained full expression in her series Blanco y Verde (White and Green),” a stunning grouping of 10 paintings. The third section shows visitors how the artist “explored sculptural ideas on canvas and in her drawings, and then translated those ideas into three-dimensional structures,” says Miller. “It’s breathtaking.”
Today, Herrera still works most days in her studio/ apartment in Chelsea where she has lived since 1954. Says Miller, “Her perseverance shows what it means to be dedicated to your craft.” “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight” runs September 16, 2016, to January 2, 2017, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3600