Carmen Herrera at the Venice Biennale

Keith Haring Mural at the Stanley Museum

For the first time in history, a work of Carmen Herrera (1915-2022) is on exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

 

The Cuban-born American artist painted in Paris from 1948 to 1956, where she was the first artist in Europe to use acrylic paint. The Untitled work, on display at the Central Pavilion, was done on burlap, one of the surfaces she painted on because of the shortage of materials during the post-war years.

 

 

Herrera died in 2022 at the age 106. She didn’t gain the recognition she deserved until 2004, when she was 88, and her work was shown at the Latin Collector Gallery in Manhattan. In 2019 Herrera was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, as an Honorary Royal Academician.

 

Her study of architecture at the University of Havana may have contributed to her clean, minimalist style. “I like straight lines, I like angles, I like order,” she said in a 1994 interview. “In this chaos that we live in, I like to put order. I guess that’s why I am a hard-edged painter, a geometric painter.”

 

Carmen Herrera’s works are part of the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pérez Art Museum in Miami among many others.

 

An Untitled two-color silkscreen, created in 2018, is available at VFA.

 


 

 

A new biography of Keith Haring (1958-1990) titled Radiant: The Life and Line of Keith Haring by Brad Gooch talks about his success and universal recognition as an artist, but his frustration at having his work sold in museum gift shops, but not displayed on museum walls.

 

Keith Haring is remembered for his talent, his social activism, creating public acceptance of street art and his belief that “art is for everybody”.

 

Sometime in the 1980s, Colleen Ernst, an art teacher at Horn Elementary in Iowa City, wrote a letter to Haring telling him how much her fifth and sixth grade students liked his work.

 

Haring visited the school during a trip to Iowa, where he painted a public mural and gave talks about his work.

 

 

He and Ernst kept in touch and, in 1989, he returned to the school and painted a mural in the school library. A Book Full of Fun was painted on plywood and attached to a library wall. It depicts an open book with people, animals, letters and numbers spewing out. Haring died less than a year after completing the mural.


Horn Elementary is being renovated. The mural was removed for the renovation and is currently on view at the Stanley Museum in Iowa City. The mural will be returned to the school library when the renovations are complete.

 

To My Friends at Horn: Keith Haring and Iowa City,along with his video performance Painting Myself into a Corner will be on view from May 4, 2024 through January 7, 2025.

 


  

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Carmen Herrera and Keith Haring available at VFA.

 


 


References:
David Ebony. Carmen Herrera: Paintings on Paper. The Brooklyn Rail. April 2024.
Max Lakin. Keith Haring’s Legacy Is Not Found at the Museum. The New York Times. April 18, 2024.
Rhea Nayyar. When Keith Haring Painted a Mural for an Iowa Elementary School. Hyperallergic. April 25, 2024.

May 1, 2024
of 218