Carmen Herrera awarded The Cintas Foundation Visual Arts Lifetime Achievement

December 2009.

The Cintas Foundation announced it will present the 2010 Cintas Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts to Carmen Herrera. The 95 year-old Cuban painter was awarded the Cintas Foundation Fellowship two times early in her career, in 1966 and  then in 1968. Founded in 1963, the Cintas Foundation awards fellowships annually to creative artists of Cuban lineage who reside outside of Cuba. The program has honored some of the world’s most talented Cuban artists.

Born in Havana in 1915, Herrera studied painting and art history at the Marymount School in Paris from 1929 to 1930.  In 1939, she married Jesse Loewenthal, a literature professor in New York.  They were married for 62 years and lived in New York and Paris before settling in New York in 1952 where she currently resides.  As a woman painting in New York in the 50’s and 60’s, she did not receive the kind of public attention and publicity she deserved in an art world in which women had few opportunities to exhibit and male artists predominated. Despite the visionary nature of her work and her association with artists of great reputation and influence, including Barnett Newman and Leon Polk Smith, her paintings were seldom exhibited. However, recent acquisitions of her work by MoMA and El Museo del Barrio, New York; Tate Modern, London and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC reveal a well-deserved recognition of the paintings she has consistently produced throughout her life.

At the heart of Herrera’s work is a striking formal simplicity and attention to color.  Works are organized based on the harmony and tension of opposing chromatic planes, combining symmetry and asymmetry as a means to give structure to the surface.  Reducing her work to a play between two colors, Herrera creates an experience of sophisticated intensity. Her retrospective exhibition opened in September 2009 at IKON Gallery, a not-for-profit space in Birmingham, England. The exhibition will travel to the Phalzgallerie Museum in Germany and open on January 22nd, 2010. 

The Cintas Foundation

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