Carmen Herrera is very possibly the oldest contemporary artist working today. Born in 1915, she exhibited alongside the likes of Piet Mondrian in Paris, and after moving to New York in the mid-1950s from her native Cuba, she counted Barnett Newman as her contemporary. What is extraordinary about Herrera is that ‘commercial success’ did not come until the early 2000s — after seven decades as an artist striving for painterly resolutions.
With an uncompromising eye for colour and line, her paintings are planes of pure geometry mixed with a gleaming palette — at once simple yet striking. The artist was an early champion of modernist abstraction and a pioneer of Latin American Modernism, and the mesmerising simplicity seen in her work is the result of what she calls ‘a lifelong process of purification’.
In a world often governed by speed and progress, Herrera’s commitment is indeed rare and admirable; what is more, her work is simply beautiful.