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December 2016

Artist Carmen Herrera, at age 101, Shows at Major Museums

One of the most fascinating artists of 2016 has to be Cuban-born, American Minimalist artist Carmen Herrera.  Born in Havana in 1915, Herrera moved to post war Paris, eventually ending up in New York City in the mid-50's.  Her work was exhibited next to Piet Mondrian, and was considered equal to that of Barnett Newman and Frank Stella, but Herrera remained unnoticed, and undeterred. 

I discovered a wonderful 2010 interview by Hermione Hoby, titled "Carmen Herrera: 'Every Painting has been a fight between the painting and me. I tend to win.' The abstract artist on the man who saved her paintings from the bin, and being discovered at the age of 89."  

One of my favorite quotes is this:

"You don't decide to be an artist, art gets inside of you. Before you know it you're painting, before you know it you're an artist. You're so surprised. It's like falling in love."

But she has an acerbic wit and great insight, so I'm sure you'll find favorites of your own.

More interesting reads on this remarkable story of passion and resiliency include Carmen Herrera, 101-Year-Old Overnight Success, Gets Her Whitney Close-Up (with video), at CultureGrrl, written by Lee Rosenbaum, and this Dazed article, At 101-years-old, artist Carmen Herrera is NY’s one-to-watch, by Ashleigh Kane.

Overlooked for decades, Carmen Herrera remained true to her passion.  Though some of the reasons the art world ignored her work have since been resolved - women are not as invisible as they were 50 years ago - there are other obstacles that have little to do with gender or the quality of the work or the direction of the vision.  The take away here is truth to vision and belief in purpose, and not allowing age to be the excuse for no