BY GABE HERMAN | A new outdoor exhibition at City Hall Park features sculptures by a 104-year-old local artist who has only recently started to get recognition in the art world.
Carmen Herrera was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1915, and has lived in New York since the 1950s. She has created abstract paintings for more than 70 years, often focusing on the beauty of straight lines and simple geometric forms. The concepts were influenced by her architecture studies in Havana in the 1930s, according to the exhibition’s curator, Daniel S. Palmer of the Public Art Fund.
The artwork in Lower Manhattan is called “Estructuras Monumentales.” It’s the first major exhibition of outdoor sculptures by Herrera, and is based on sketches she started doing in the 1960s.
There are five sculptures, each a large work of painted aluminum, each with its own shape and distinct meaning.
One piece, “Untitled Estructura (Red),” (1962/2018), features two multisided lines that seem to interconnect and confront each other. The work’s description says it could refer to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the conflict between Herrera’s adopted country of the U.S. and her native Cuba. During the conflict, Herrera and her husband helped loved ones and refugees to escape the conflict.
Another piece, “Pavanne,” (1967/2017), while from a distance, looks like one big piece of blue metal, is actually three pieces that interlock together. The work was conceived by Herrera as a tribute to her younger brother, Mariano, who was dying of cancer. The title references a musical term for a slow processional dance that has funereal overtones.
“This is such a special opportunity for us at Public Art Fund to work with an artist like Carmen Herrera,” said the curator Daniel S. Palmer in a Public Art Fund video discussing the exhibition, “to share her powerful work with the entirety of the city and the world.”
The five sculptures are spread around in different parts of City Hall Park and will be 0n view until Nov. 8.