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PORTFOLIO: CARMEN HERRERA

Carmen Herrera, Shocking Pink #20, 1949, acrylic on canvas, 32 × 40".

CARMEN HERRERA is finally, at the age of 101, gaining the attention she deserves. With a major survey of her paintings, sculptures, and drawings now on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and having inaugurated Lisson Gallery’s New York space in May with her most recent work, key examples from her seven decades of extraordinary output are available as never before.

To understand what makes Herrera’s art significant, it helps to consider two major influences on her early artistic life: her friendship with Barnett Newman and her exposure to debates regarding abstraction in postwar Paris. Newman, who was a frequent interlocutor with Herrera after she moved from her native Cuba, where she studied architecture, to New York in 1939, would likely have impressed on her the capacity of abstract painting to address a viewer’s phenomenological experience as it is grounded

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