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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Carmen Herrera. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.


Artist: Carmen Herrera (Cuban, born 1915)
Date: 1965
69 1/8 × 68 1/4 × 1 5/8 in. (175.6 × 173.4 × 4.1 cm)
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2016.27
Signed: verso: "CERULEAN" Carmen Herrera - 1965
On View
Descriptionartist's frame
Accession Number: 2016.27
Provenanceto Private Collection; to (Phillips, New York, NY), November 16, 2016, sale NY010716, lot 1; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2016
Label TextAs a student in her native country of Cuba, Carmen Herrera studied architecture along with art. The complexity of three-dimensional space has deeply informed her paintings- so much so that the artist calls the forms she creates “a cut in space.”

In the 1950s, Herrera moved to New York where she met other artists exploring abstract painting, including Leon Polk Smith, whose work is nearby. Beginning in 1965, the year she made Cerulean, Herrera pushed beyond the typical rectangular format. By embracing various shapes for her canvases, she stepped away from the long history of painting display as framed rectangles on the wall.

As an immigrant and a woman, Herrera has long been overlooked. She sold her first painting when she was 89 years old. Reflecting on her hard-won career, Herrera advised: “Don’t be intimidated about anything.”