Cuban Painter Carmen Herrera, Who Came to Fame at 89, Dies at 106

The artist sold her painting ’White and Green’ for $3.9 million at an auction held by Sotheby’s. (

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 14 February 2022 — Cuban artist Carmen Herrera died at her home in Manhattan, New York, this Saturday at the age of 106, according to information from her friend and representative, Puerto Rican artist Tony Bechara, speaking to The New York Times.  

Herrera was born in Havana in 1915 and her parents were one of the founding editors of the Cuban newspaper El Mundo and its reporters. She studied architecture at the University of Havana and began traveling between the island and Paris in the 1930s and 1940s.

At the end of World War II, she moved to live in the French capital and later did an internship at the Art Students League in New York, where she moved in the mid-1950s after marrying the literature professor Jesse Lowenthal, who died in 2000.

Although she belonged to New York art circles, her work was largely ignored until he was nearly 90 years old. Her first painting was sold in 2004, when she became one of the most important figures of the abstract movement and minimalism.

According to her own testimony, in the 1950s being a female artist in the US was not easy. “People weren’t ready to receive my work,” she said in an interview in 2010, when she recalled how an avant-garde gallery owner in New York told her: “Carmen, you can paint circles around the male artists I have, but I won’t give you an exhibition because you are a woman.”

In 2018, her painting Blanco y Verde, painted between 1966 and 1967, fetched $3.9 million at an auction Sotheby’s held in New York. A year later she enjoyed another of her biggest milestones when there was a display of a group of her oversized sculptures in the gardens of New York City Hall. The sample was called Monumental Structures.  

Her paintings, minimalist compositions full of straight lines, shapes and color, can be found in the permanent collections of major museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London, as well as the Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art American in Washington, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

In the late 2000s, Carmen Herrera exhibited at the Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern Museum in Germany and the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, England.


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