Carmen Herrera, Blanco Y Verde, 1966–67
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.