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First public art exhibition in Carmen Herrera's 70+ year career includes three new works
Carmen Herrera, Angulo Rojo, 2017. Acrylic and aluminum, 84 x 120 7/8 x 19 in. © Carmen Herrera; Courtesy Lisson Gallery. On view as part of Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales, Presented by Public Art Fund at City Hall Park, New York City, July 11, 2019 – November 8, 2019. Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY.

NEW YORK, NY.- On July 11, Public Art Fund opened Estructuras Monumentales, the first major exhibition of outdoor sculptures by the Cuban-born, New York-based artist Carmen Herrera (b. 1915, Havana, Cuba) in her seven-decade career. Featuring three newly-realized sculptures based on historic designs and two sculptures never before seen in the U.S., Estructuras Monumentales enlivens City Hall Park with five works at a monumental scale, ranging from seven feet in height to over 12 feet in width. Known for her vibrant, abstract geometric paintings, Herrera began conceiving her Estructuras series — the physical manifestation of her painted forms in three dimensions — in the 1960s. The resulting aluminum structures feature strong lines and forms, with bold monochromatic colors that complement the civic environment. The vivid red, blue, green, and yellow sculptures have been sited throughout the park’s groves and pathways, offering a powerful yet reflective experience for the public that evokes both a sense of order and tranquility. The exhibition marks a milestone in the 104-year old artist’s long and celebrated career and brings the full breadth of her work in three dimensions to the public for the first time. Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales is on view from July 11 – November 8, 2019 in Lower Manhattan’s City Hall Park.

Estructuras Monumentales brings Carmen Herrera's bold sculptures to the public for the first time, providing this legendary artist with a long overdue opportunity to showcase her work in three dimensions.” says Public Art Fund Associate Curator, Daniel S. Palmer. “Powerful yet meditative, Herrera’s monochromatic Estructuras will harmonize with the natural surroundings of this civic setting – City Hall Park serves as the ideal environment for this important exhibition in Herrera's long career.”

Angulo Rojo (2017) is the first Estructura Herrera has designed in more than three decades. Presenting a dynamic chevron composition, the red A-shaped sculpture conveys movement and rhythm and is reminiscent of the many diamond forms from her iconic paintings. It presents both the solidity of a sculptural object and the weightlessness of a celestial shape ascending towards the sky. Pavanne (1967/2017), the other existing work, was conceived originally as a drawing in 1967 as a memorial to Herrera’s brother who had cancer. The brooding work has been situated in one of the park’s groves to encourage quiet contemplation. Pavanne, which refers to the musical term for a slow dance, often as part of a funeral procession, features three interlocking elements in a deep blue that solidly extends nine feet into the air and nine feet across the lawn. The three newly fabricated works – Estructura Verde, Rojo Tres, and Untitled Estructura – are all based on historic designs from the 1960s-early 1970s and are composed of two interlocking or embracing parts that demonstrate Herrera’s careful geometric balance, distilled palette, and bold use of color. Each Estructura contains openings between its monochrome sections, bringing the landscape into the sculptures’ forms. Herrera envisions that the Estructuras are composed of both the painted aluminum and their surrounding environment as seen through the negative space. The five commanding sculptures also provide glimpses of City Hall Park’s flora, its historic fountain, the majestic government buildings that surround it, and the myriad visitors who pass through the park every day.

Born in Cuba in 1915, Herrera moved to Paris after World War II, where she spent the early part of her career and where much of her practice became fully formed. Settling permanently in New York in the 1950s, although Herrera became a part of New York’s abstract art scene, her work was largely overlooked until Herrera was in her 80s. Staying true to the pure, geometric abstraction she developed in post-war Paris, in recent years, Herrera has been recognized as a leading voice in the abstract and minimalist movements. Only her second institutional solo show in New York in more than 20 years, Estructuras Monumentales is the culmination of Herrera’s long interest in three-dimensional form.

Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales is curated by Public Art Fund Associate Curator Daniel S. Palmer.

Carmen Herrera was born in Havana, Cuba in 1915. She moved frequently between France and Cuba throughout the 1930s and 1940s; having started studying architecture at the Universidad de La Habana, Havana, Cuba (1938–39), she trained at the Art Students League, New York, NY, USA (1942–43), before exhibiting five times at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1949–53). She settled in New York in 1954, where she continues to live and work.

Herrera’s work was the subject of a large-scale survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2016), which traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (2017) and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (K20) in Düsseldorf, Germany (2017–2018). A selection of Herrera's recent paintings and Estructuras inaugurated Lisson Gallery New York’s 24th Street exhibition space in May 2016. Herrera has also had solo exhibitions at Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Germany (2010); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2009); and Museo del Barrio, New York (1998). She has been included in group shows at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2017); The Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2016); Phoenix Museum of Art, Arizona (2013); and Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska (2012), among others. Her work is featured in the exhibition Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera at The Met Breuer (2018-19).

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