Audio guide stop for Carmen Herrera, A City, 1948
Dana Miller: In A City, we see a work that Herrera made early during her Paris stay. It's made on a very thick burlap fabric, and this is because, at the time, right after World War II, artists couldn't actually get all of the materials that they needed, so Herrera and a number of her peers would scavenge for materials. This particular burlap, they found at an agricultural store. It's a material that was normally used on horses or oxes, to protect them from the saddle or the yoke, and this is what they were using instead of regular duck canvas to make their paintings.
You see in this painting a very sharp triangular form that starts to appear more regularly at this time and eventually becomes one of the key icons or symbols in her alphabet of forms.
This painting is unusual in that it has a title. A City is the title. It's a reference to something exterior, which starts to fall away in her work from Paris. The abstraction becomes less referential. It's not pointing to something in her surroundings. But here, these triangular forms resemble spires or perhaps the tower of a gothic cathedral.