Tag Archive | Estructuras

Carmen Herrera Estructuras Monumentales in City Hall Park

Angula Rojo
All Photos By Gail

Cuban American Geometrical Abstract painter Carmen Herrera (b. 1915, Havana) waited a very long time to get her hard-earned props from the art world. The artist’s first career retrospective, 20162017 Lines Of Sight at New York City’s Whitney Museum finally provided a showcase for her minimalist, color field paintings, alongside a selection of her geometric, monochromatic sculptures — which she simply calls Estructuras (Structures). While it’s disappointing to realize that, at 104 years of age, Carmen Herrera isn’t quite a household name, the NYC-based Public Art Fund is doing its part to expose her works to a wider audience by sponsoring Estructuras Monumentales, Herrera’s first major exhibition of outdoor sculptures, which are currently on view in City Hall Park. This park is a short walk from my office, to so I walked over on my lunch hour to check it out.

Angula Rojo

Herrera’s Estructuras series of sculptures, informed by her architectural training, date back to the 1960s with a group of diagrammatic sketches. She envisioned large-scale monochromatic sculptures that would extend the experience of her luminous paintings into three dimensions. Until recently, these historic proposals have remained unrealized. With Estructuras Monumentales, this remarkable artist is now able to share her powerful structures with public audiences for the first time. Here are the five structures located in City Hall Park.

Angula Rojo

Herrera still paints and creates every day, but Angul Rojo (2017) is the first Estructura that she has designed in more than three decades. Its red chevron composition conveys movement and rhythm with a bold dynamism reminiscent of many of her most iconic paintings.

Pavanne

Herrera originally conceived Pavanne, (1967/2017) as a monument to her younger brother, Mariano, who was then dying of cancer. The three tightly fit, interlocking elements of this solemn work encourage quiet contemplation, while the title references the musical term for a slow processional dance with funereal overtones.

Pavanne

Amarilla Tres

Amarillo Tres, 1971/2018. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Herrera began to work with a carpenter to translate her drawings into wooden sculptural Estructuras. That resulted in the important smaller Azul ‘Tres’ (1971), on which this monumental Estructura is based. Herrera was forced to temporarily halt this endeavor when the carpenter she worked with passed away and the grant stipend that had supported the work began to dwindle.

Amarilla Tres

Estructura Verde

Estructura Verde (1966/2018) most clearly expresses the evolution from Herrera’s paintings to her Estructuras. Her breakthrough Blanco y Verde (196667) series of paintings on canvas created long, acute wedges of dark paint among white expanses. This sculpture translates and inverts that arrangement, with two bold green interlocked L-shaped forms, which encompass slivers of negative space, incorporating the sculpture’s surroundings into its dynamic composition.

Estructura Verde

Estructura Verde

Untitled Estructura (Red)

Untitled Estructura (Red), (1962/2018). Carmen Herrera’s Estructuras can be appreciated for their formal poetry, yet they can also be seen in the context of her life. In October of 1962, the confrontation between the United States and Cuba escalated to the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which Herrera and her husband Jesse Lowenthal were deeply involved in helping friends, family, and refugees escape the conflict. The overhanging cantilevered arrangement of this Estructura might abstractly allude to the tensions between Herrera’s adopted and native countries at the moment she conceived this work.

Untitled Estructura (Red)

Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales, Curated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer, Will Be On View in City Hall Park (Located in Lower Manhattan) Through November 8th, 2019.

Angula Rojo

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Carmen Herrera, Lines of Sight at The Whitney Museum

Installation Sculptures 2
Installation View (All Photos By Gail)

Most of the better-known artists of the Geometric Abstraction school of art — such as Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, and Frank Stella — are men; but that doesn’t mean there were no equally talented  women artists working alongside these giants, just because we don’t know about them.

Red Orange Yellow

One such artist is the Cuban-American painter Carmen Herrera, who, at 101 years of age, is likely the oldest working professional artist in America. Right now, you can see a collection of Herrera’s work spanning three decades at the Whitney Museum, and it is pretty sweet. Carmen Herrara: Lines of Sight is the first museum exhibition of this groundbreaking artist in New York City in nearly two decades. Focusing on the years 1948 to 1978, the period during which Herrera developed her signature style, the show features more than fifty works, including paintings, three-dimensional works, and works on paper.

Yellow and Blue

Installation View

Lines of Sight begins with the formative period following World War II, when Herrera lived in Paris and experimented with different modes of abstraction before establishing the visual language that she would explore with great nuance for the succeeding five decades. Many of these works have never been displayed before in a museum.

Pink Black and White

Black and White Green

Blanco Y Verde
Blanco Y Verde (White and Green) Installation View

The second section of the show is an unprecedented gathering of works from what Herrera considers her most important series, Blanco y Verde (1959–1971). Nine paintings from this series illustrate the highly innovative way in which Herrera conceptualized her paintings as objects, using the physical structure of the canvas as a compositional tool and integrating the surrounding environment.

Green and White

Estructuras

With work dating from approximately 1962 to 1978, the final section illuminates Herrera’s continued experimentation with figure/ground relationships and highlights the architectural underpinnings of many of her compositions. This section includes four wooden sculptures — Herrera’s “estructuras”— as well as her brilliant Days of the Week, a series of seven vivid paintings.

Estructuras

For those who can’t make it to New York to see Lines of Sight in person, you can check out a new documentary, The 100 Years Show — which celebrates Herrera’s career  chronicles her preparation for the Whitney exhibit — which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight will be on Exhibit Through January 9th, 2017, at The Whitney Museum, Located at 99 Gansevoort Street, in Manhattan.

Installation Sculptures