Carmen Herrera

Blanco y Verde
1959

Not on view

Date
1959

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Acrylic on canvas

Dimensions
Overall: 68 1/8 × 60 1/2in. (173 × 153.7 cm)

Accession number
2014.63

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee

Rights and reproductions
© Carmen Herrera; courtesy Lisson Gallery, London

2016:
© Carmen Herrera



Audio

  • Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight

    Carmen Herrera, Blanco Y Verde, 1966–67

    Carmen Herrera, Blanco Y Verde, 1966–67

    0:00

    Dana Miller: In this work from 1966 to '67, Herrera is using the green triangles to create a very simple—seemingly simple composition. If you look carefully, you'll see that the green triangles wrap around the bottom edge and the top edge of the canvas. She's thinking about this work as it might be seen on a white wall. She's also thinking about this work as if it were almost a three-dimensional object, painting the top and the bottom of the canvases. It's as if she was taking a rectangular block and carving into it.

    I think, in these works, you start to sense that Herrera was, early on in her career, making sculpture—which was the case when she started out in Havana; many of her classes and her training was in sculpture—and that she also studied to be an architect. She left Havana in 1939 after taking a year of architecture training at the university.

    Narrator: The nine works hanging in this gallery are all from Nine Herrera’s Blanco y Verde series. Take a moment to compare them. Herrera has said that this series was the most significant of her career.

    Dana Miller: For Herrera, this was a particular color combination and arrangement of shapes that appealed to her. It was something that fascinated her. She said the color combination of green and white was like saying yes and no. She went back to this again and again between the years 1959 and 1971, experimenting with different combinations of the triangles, different combinations of white rectangles. It's almost as if she's taking tiles like a quilter might have a pattern, and rotating them, turning them, and twisting them into various different geometric patterns until she finds the one that best suits her statement.

  • America Is Hard to See

    Carmen Herrera, Blanco y Verde, 1959

    Carmen Herrera, Blanco y Verde, 1959

    0:00

    Dana Miller: I’m Dana Miller, Curator of the Permanent Collection here at the Whitney.

    This painting, Blanco y Verde, from 1959, is one of several works that Carmen Herrera made from the Blanco y Verde series.

    So if you look carefully, you can see that this painting is actually made from two different canvases, and they meet at the bottom of the green triangle. So she’s using the physical structure of the canvas, the edge of the canvas, to reinforce the form. So the color, the green shape, the structure of the canvas where the two meet, and the line, the shape of the triangle are working in concert here to create the total image.

    I think one of the interesting things about Herrera’s background is that she went to architecture school. And her paintings, if you look at them carefully, can often be seen as almost like cuts in space. If you think of the green triangle as being a slice taken out of the painting, and when you look at her sculptural works and her drawings, you see that’s very much the way she’s thinking. She’s often thinking in three-dimensional terms, and then translating that image into a two-dimensional form, using green and white. So almost imagine the green as being a negative space that’s sort of a cut into the white plane of the canvas.  




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