Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CARMEN HERRERA 94 YEARS OLD ABSTRACT PAINTER




SUB -'CINTAS FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES THE 2010 CINTAS FOUNDATION VISUAL ARTS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO CARMEN HERRERA'

There are late-bloomers and then there's Carmen Herrera. At the ripe old age of 94, the abstract painter has finally hit her stride — and she's enjoying every second of it.
"I never in my life had any idea of money and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. So I just worked and waited," she told The New York Times. "And at the end of my life, I'm getting a lot of recognition, to my amazement and my pleasure, actually."
The Cuban-born painter sold her first painting at age 89, and the accolades have been rolling in ever since: her work has entered the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern. Last summer The Observer of London called Ms. Herrera the discovery of the decade, asking, "How can we have missed these beautiful compositions?"

According to the Times, Herrera is, "a minimalist whose canvases are geometric distillations of form and color." She has painted in relative isolation since the 1930s, supported largely by her husband, Jesse Loewenthal, a high school English teacher who died in 2000 — four years before she sold her first painting. "Everybody says Jesse must have orchestrated this from above. Herrera said, shaking her head. "Yeah, right, Jesse on a cloud." She added: "I worked really hard. Maybe it was me."

Recently, she accepted an art foundation's lifetime achievement award from the director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Her good friend, fellow painter Tony Bechara, toasted her and said, "We have a saying in Puerto Rico. The bus — la guagua — always comes for those who wait."

Herrera laughed heartily and issued the perfect response: "Well, Tony, I've been at the bus stop for 94 years!"

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