Carmen Herrera, Cuban-born artist who rose to prominence at 89, dies at 106
At 94, Ms Herrera, Giacometti slim, with wire-rimmed glasses and shoulder-length bone-white hair, was housebound, a royal woman in a wheelchair, suffering from arthritis, but still painting. How had she persevered after decades of being unknown?
“I do it because I have to; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure,” she told The Times in 2009. “I never had a clue about money in my life, and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. So I just worked and waited. And at the end of my life, I get a lot of recognition, to my amazement and delight, in fact.
As she turned 100 in 2015, her status in the modern art canon was affirmed by the release of a half-hour documentary, “The 100 Years Show”, by Alison Klayman, and by the inclusion of Ms. Herrera’s diptych, “Blanco y Verde” (1959), with works by Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin and Jasper Johns as the Whitney Museum of American Art opened its new home in the Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
“About time,” Ms. Herrera told a reporter over a scotch in her loft apartment on East 19th Street near Union Square. “There is a saying that we wait for the bus and it will come. I waited almost a hundred years.
In 2016, Ms. Herrera was showered with praise when the Whitney opened “Lines of Sight”, an exhibition of 50 of her paintings covering the period from 1948 to 1978, the years in which she developed her signature geometric abstractions, including a canvas depicting backgammon. -like elongated triangles, titled “A City” (1948).
“At 101, artist Carmen Herrera finally gets the spectacle the art world should have given her 40 or 50 years ago: a solo exhibition in a major New York museum,” writes Karen Rosenberg in The Times. “The exhibition presents her as an artist of tremendous discipline, coherence and clarity of purpose, and a key player in any post-war art history.”