Carmen Herrera, Cuban-born artist who rose to fame at 89, dies at 106


At age 94, Ms. Herrera, Giacometti was thin, with wire-rimmed glasses and shoulder-length bone-white hair, homebound, a majestic woman in a wheelchair, afflicted with arthritis but still painting. How had she held out after decades of obscurity?

“I do it because I have to; It’s a compulsion that I also enjoy,” she told the Times in 2009. “I never knew 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 even joy.”

When she turned 100 in 2015, her status in the modern art canon was boosted by the release of the half-hour documentary The 100 Years Show by Alison Klayman and 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 Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

“It’s about time,” Ms. Herrera told a reporter over a Scotch in her loft on East 19th Street near Union Square. “There is a saying that you wait for the bus and it comes. I’ve waited almost a hundred years.”

In 2016, Ms. Herrera was showered with accolades when the Whitney opened Lines of Sight, an exhibition of 50 of her paintings that focused on the period from 1948 to 1978, years during which she developed her signature geometric abstractions, including a canvas of backgammon-like elongated triangles entitled “A City” (1948).

“At 101, artist Carmen Herrera is finally getting the show that the art world should have given her 40 or 50 years ago: a solo show in a major museum in New York,” wrote Karen Rosenberg in The Times. “The exhibition presents her as an artist of impressive discipline, consistency and clear goals, and as a key figure in any history of post-war art.”


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