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Press release

Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales

September 3, 2020

Visit the exhibition from October 22, 2020 to April 25, 2021 in Fondren Foundation Meadow in Buffalo Bayou Park (Allen Parkway at Gillette Street) during park hours (6am-11pm).

Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) is pleased to announce Estructuras Monumentales, a major exhibition of outdoor sculptures by 105-year-old artist Carmen Herrera (b. 1915, Havana, Cuba).  Featuring four newly-created sculptures that were first envisioned nearly five decades ago, Estructuras Monumentales is Herrera’s first public art exhibition in Houston and only the second time that these large scale works have been presented globally. Organized in partnership with the New York City-based non-profit Public Art Fund, Estructuras Monumentales was first presented at Manhattan’s City Hall Park in 2019. This major survey exhibition offers Houston audiences a powerful and reflective experience that celebrates the full breadth of Herrera’s work in three dimensions.

New York-based Herrera is known for her vibrant, abstract geometric paintings, and first began conceiving her Estructuras series — the physical manifestation of her painted form in three dimensions — in the 1960s. The resulting aluminum structures feature strong lines and shapes, with bold monochromatic colors. Ranging from seven feet in height to over 12 feet in width, the colorful sculptures will enliven Buffalo Bayou Park at a monumental scale. The vivid red, blue, green, and white sculptures are sited in Fondren Foundation Meadow, the second temporary art exhibition to be featured in this location, following the 2019 installation New Monuments for New Cities, a collaborative public art project organized by BBP and the High Line Network.

The Houston exhibition of Herrera’s Estructuras is part of BBP’s celebration of Buffalo Bayou Park’s fifth anniversary. Throughout the month of October, BBP will offer a range of virtual events and art installations that showcase the manner in which this iconic urban green space inspires creativity and innovation. This exhibition is especially resonant with the park’s anniversary because of its inclusion of four of Herrera’s sculptures, and complemented by a fifth, existing landmark, Henry Moore’s Large Spindle Piece (1969), that is permanently situated at the center of the site. Signage for this exhibition will be offered in both English and Spanish, and public programs will be organized throughout the run of the exhibition.

“We are honored to host this exhibition by Carmen Herrera, one of our world’s most important living artists, and to collaborate with Public Art Fund and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in celebrating Herrera’s legacy,” said Judy Nyquist, BBP Board Member and Co-Chair of the organization’s Public Art Committee. “As this is a highly-visible site in the park, thousands of Houstonians will have the opportunity to experience and be inspired by these works for free, in an outdoor environment that is inviting to all.”

Angulo Blanco (2017) is the first Estructura Herrera has designed in more than three decades. The dynamic chevron composition conveys movement and rhythm and is reminiscent of the many triangular and diamond forms from her iconic paintings. It presents both the solidity of a sculptural object and the weightlessness of a stark celestial shape ascending towards the sky. Pavanne (1967/2017) is a solemn, contemplative work that was conceived originally as a drawing in 1967 as a memorial to Herrera’s brother who had cancer. With a title that refers to the musical term for a slow dance, often as part of a funeral procession, Pavanne features three interlocking elements in a deep blue that solidly extends nine feet into the air and nine feet across the lawn. Gemini (1971/2019) receives its world debut in the Houston exhibition. This newly-fabricated sculpture and Untitled Estructura (1962/2018) are based on historic designs from the 1960s-early 1970s. They are each composed of two interlocking or embracing parts that demonstrate Herrera’s careful geometric balance, distilled palette, and bold use of color. Framing and incorporating the surrounding landscape into its forms, Herrera’s Estructuras will create a compelling conversation between the painted aluminum sculptures and their natural setting in the park.

“At a time when public art is more vital than ever, we are thrilled to partner with Buffalo Bayou Partnership to bring Carmen Herrera’s Estructuras Monumentales to Houston audiences,” says Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer. “Herrera’s breathtaking sculptures will fit perfectly within this natural environment complemented by the geometric and lively skyline of Houston. This is the ideal setting to highlight Herrera, an eminent artist who is finally receiving well-deserved recognition.”

Opening in concurrence with Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s exhibition is a presentation of Herrera’s works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on view from October 21, 2020 – January 18, 2021. Titled Carmen Herrera: Structuring Surfaces, it is the first exhibition at the Museum exclusively devoted to the work of the internationally celebrated artist and showcases more than 30 of her pieces from the 1960s to the present, including paintings, drawings, prints, wall structures and objects. Other Herrera exhibitions are currently on view at Lisson Gallery in New York (September 10-October 24, 2020) and The Perimeter in London (September 25, 2020 – January 8, 2021).

Born in Cuba in 1915, Herrera moved to Paris after World War II, where she spent the early part of her career and where much of her practice became fully formed. Settling permanently in New York in the 1950s, although Herrera became a part of New York’s abstract art scene, her work was largely overlooked until Herrera was in her 80s. Staying true to the pure, geometric abstraction she developed in post-war Paris, in recent years, Herrera has been recognized as a leading voice in the abstract and minimalist movements. Estructuras Monumentales celebrates Herrera’s long career and interest in three-dimensional form.

Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales is curated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer. This exhibition was first presented by Public Art Fund in New York City at City Hall Park from July 11 – November 8, 2019. The Houston presentation of Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales is organized in collaboration with Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Public Art Fund.

Programming for Estructuras Monumentales is supported by the Nyquist Family.

Photo credit:
Carmen Herrera
Untitled Estructura (Red), 1962/2018
Acrylic and aluminum, 96 x 128 3/8  x 45 7/8 in.
© Carmen Herrera; Courtesy Lisson Gallery
On view as part of Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales, presented by Public Art Fund at City Hall Park, New York City, July 11, 2019 – November 8, 2019
Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

Carmen Herrera was born in Havana, Cuba in 1915. She moved frequently between France and Cuba throughout the 1930s and 1940s; having started studying architecture at the Universidad de La Habana, Havana, Cuba (1938–39), she trained at the Art Students League, New York, NY, USA (1942–43), before exhibiting five times at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1949–53). She settled in New York in 1954, where she continues to live and work.

Herrera’s work was the subject of a large-scale survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2016), which traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (2017) and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (K20) in Düsseldorf, Germany (2017–2018). A selection of Herrera’s recent paintings and Estructuras inaugurated Lisson Gallery New York’s 24th Street exhibition space in May 2016. Herrera has also had solo exhibitions at Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Germany (2010); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2009); and Museo del Barrio, New York (1998). She has been included in group shows at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2017); The Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2016); Phoenix Museum of Art, Arizona (2013); and Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska (2012), among others. Her work was featured in the exhibition Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera at The Met Breuer (2018-19).

Established in 1986, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) is the non-profit transforming and revitalizing Buffalo Bayou, Houston’s most significant natural resource.  The organization’s geographic focus is the 10-square mile stretch of the bayou that flows from Shepherd Drive, through the heart of downtown into the East End, and onto the Port of Houston Turning Basin.  Thanks to the generous support of foundations, corporations, individuals and government agencies, BBP has implemented more than $200 million in improvements for the redevelopment and stewardship of the waterfront – spearheading award-winning projects such as Buffalo Bayou Park, planning for new parks and green space east of downtown, constructing hike and bike trails, and operating comprehensive clean-up and maintenance programs.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership also activates the waterway through pedestrian, boating and biking amenities; volunteer activities; and wide-ranging tours and programs that engage tens of thousands of visitors each year.  The organization has long been dedicated to presenting arts projects along the bayou – working with a coterie of local, national, and internationally recognized artists as well as collaborating with a broad spectrum of organizations on film, music, dance and cultural events.  BBP’s vision for its public art program is to present inspiring and original art and cultural experiences, engage our diverse communities, promote opportunities for connection and dialogue, and celebrate the unique character of Buffalo Bayou.

As the leader in its field, Public Art Fund brings dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City and beyond by mounting ambitious free exhibitions of international scope and impact that offer the public powerful experiences with art and the urban environment.

Leadership support for Estructuras Monumentales in Houston provided by Erika and John Toussaint. Benefactor support provided by Farrell Family Foundation and Susan and Leonard Feinstein, with additional funding from an Anonymous Donor, Tony Bechara, Leslie and Brad Bucher, and Lisson Gallery. Buffalo Bayou Partnership is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

The Movado Group Foundation was the presenting sponsor of Estructuras Monumentales at City Hall Park in New York City.

Public Art Fund is supported by the generosity of individuals, corporations, and private foundations including lead support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, along with major support from the Charina Endowment Fund, Con Edison, the Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, The Marc Haas Foundation, Hartfield Foundation, NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust, the Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, and The Silverweed Foundation.
Public Art Fund exhibitions and programs are also supported in part with public funds from government agencies, including the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.