Carmen Herrera
Cuban-American abstract, minimalist painter



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Carmen Herrera
Cuban-American abstract, minimalist painter
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Date of Birth

May 31, 1915

Place of Birth

Havana, Cuba

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Carmen became famous at the age of 94.

After studying architecture in her native Cuba, Carmen moved to NYC together with her husband Jesse Loewenthal. She had a short stint at the NY Art Student's League, but after a year she quit, mainly because she disliked the academic BS she had to go through.

Living in Paris totally changed her life. While strolling along the banks of the Seine, Carmen stumbled upon a book that became her biggest inspiration. She had no idea geometric art was even a thing, but she instantly loved it. It did mean she had to forget everything she had ever learned about painting, giving up representational art entirely. She says it was a struggle, but after years she found her own voice.

Carmen pursuing her art career was the reason the couple had to move to cheap and sometimes dangerous neighborhoods, so they could afford a house in which Carmen had enough space to paint. Jesse was super supportive. She said, "Many talented people drop out of art because they can't afford to do it, which is terribly sad. I was a very lucky woman."

After they moved back to NYC, Carmen and Jesse moved in next to painter Barnett Newman and his wife Annalee. They became friends and had breakfast with them every Sunday, which I guess was more like bruch, because why have breakfast if you can have brunch? 

Both Jesse and Barnett never experienced Carmen's huge success. Carmen sold her first painting at the age of 94. In 2004 an artist dropped out of a show on female geometric painters at the Latin Collector Gallery in Manhattan. Her friend, painter Tony Bechara recommended Herrera, and the rest is history. 12 years later, in 2016 at the age of 101, she fi-nal-ly had her well deserved solo show at the Whitney Museum. Carmen was in shock after those first few paintings got sold in 2004, but now she has paintings in all of the big collections around the world. 


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Carmen Herrera

Carmen Herrera (born May 30, 1915) is a Cuban-American abstract, minimalist visual artist and painter. She was born in Havana and has lived in New York City since the mid-1950s. Herrera's abstract works have brought her international recognition late in life.

Early life

Herrera was born on May 30, 1915 in Havana, Cuba. She was one of seven siblings. Her parents, Antonio Herrera y López de la Torre (1874–1917) and Carmela Nieto de Herrera (1875–1963), were part of Havana’s intellectual circle. Antonio had served as a captain in the Cuban army during the war for independence from Spain (1895–98). After the war, he became executive editor of Cuba’s first post-independence newspaper, El Mundo, founded in 1901. Carmela was a pioneering journalist and respected author, philanthropist, and feminist. Herrera began taking private art lessons from professor Federico Edelmann y Pinto when she was eight years old. Herrera attributes these lessons to her facility for discipline and for providing her with the fundamentals of academic drawing. She furthered her training in 1929, at the age of 14, when she attended the Marymount School in Paris. In 1938, Herrera continued her education at the Universidad de la Habana to study architecture, where she stayed for only one academic year because in the time she wanted to pursue her architectural career there was as she quotes "There were always revolutions going on, and fighting in the street. The university was closed most of the time, so it affected my studies." This year had a strong impact on Herrera and she is quoted as saying, “There, an extraordinary world opened up to me that never closed: the world of straight lines, which has interested me until this very day."

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Carmen Herrera.