At 102 years of age, Carmen Herrera is an artistic force to be reckoned with. Now an internationally recognised abstract and minimalist painter, Herrera's story is made all the more extraordinary by the length of time it took for this acknowledgement to arrive.
Herrera, who had been painting since the 1930's in Cuba and Paris, settled in New York in 1954. Herrera faced continuous rejection from the art world in New York right through until 2004, largely due to her gender. In fact, by the time she was first selected to exhibit in New York, she had been living in the city for 50 years.
In the documentary that chronicles Herrera's life story, The 100 Years Show, Herrera herself comments that “the fact that you were a woman was against you.” She further relents that when attempting to enter her art for an exhibition at the Rose Fried gallery, the female curator, Rose Fried, told her she could not include the work because Herrera was a woman.
Herrera has not only been an inspiration because of her persistence and tenacity, but also because of the strength of the shape, line and colour seen in her work. Recognising the geometric elements in her paintings, Herrera has been quoted as crediting a year of studying architecture in Cuba as the place where "an extraordinary world opened up to me that never closed: the world of straight lines, which has interested me until this very day".