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Herrera, Carmen (1915--) By Estevez, Lisandra

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM1574-1
Published: 02/05/2017
Retrieved: 24 April 2024, from


Carmen Herrera is a Cuban painter known for her pure geometric abstraction that emphasizes a stark rational order. In each work, she generally restricts her palette to a few contrasting colors or values to create a powerful sense of emphasis and order. In works such as Two Worlds (2011, private collection) and Yellow and Black (2010, private collection), she uses pure, unmixed pigments to accentuate solid shapes. She often paints variegated fields and crisp stripes of bold, flat color to arrange her compositions methodically. While her art has been understandably compared to that of American abstract artists such as Barnett Newman (who was, in fact, a close friend of Herrera’s) and Ellsworth Kelly, Herrera herself has stated that she owes her vibrant sense of color to the Cuban painter Amelia Peláez, who was known for her ebullient hues. In her own words, Herrera sees her own art as “a continuation of that of … Peláez, especially where colour is concerned” (qtd in Fuentes-Perez, Cruz-Taura, and Pau-Llosa 1987: 104). One cannot discount the impact of Herrera’s early training as an architect on her varied yet precise representation of shapes and structured arrangement of forms. The highly disciplined, almost ascetic nature of her compositions captures a concrete geometric order that emphasizes a rational sense of symmetry, asymmetry, and unity. According to Herrera herself, her optical and minimalist approach to form lies in her “quest … for the simplest of pictorial resolutions.”

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Estevez, Lisandra. Herrera, Carmen (1915--). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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