Entering Lisson Gallery’s 24th Street New York space, visitors are greeted with a vibrant, colorful arrangement of works, geometric forms mounted on walls, arranged along the floor, and in some cases, even propped up on tables, creating the impression of momentary voids in the perception of the gallery space, or even that of the viewer’s own visual field. The show is the first ever large-scale presentation of Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera’s Estrcuturas works, and underscores the artist’s ongoing contributions to the languages of minimalism and conceptualism.
Herrera’s Estructuras have been underway for over 50 years, first proposed in a series of sketches in the late 1960’s, and explored in a variety of works over the coming decades. Yet a full commitment to the contrasts between her rigid geometric forms and the subtle actions of the lines that render them were rarely given the full, undivided attention of a single body of work. She came close in the early 1970’s, but after the carpenter she was collaborating with on the project passed away, she abandoned the work. Now, however, she has returned to the project, completing a number of them and showing them alongside a series of the pieces originally created during the 1970’s.
Arranged here, the Estructuras, present themselves as something of an environmental participation. Much like similar actions in rigid geometric forms explored by Carl Andre or Donald Judd, for instance, her pieces break up the flat plane of the floor, or interrupt the verticality of the wall, turning the entire space into a framing mechanism for the works themselves, a negative space that becomes contingent in the construction of the final piece. Yet while her contemporaries in New York embraced filled out objects as their main elements, Herrera’s are dotted with holes and broken lines, ultimately leaving their composition open in a way that goes further than many of the minimalists. Rather than creating dichotomies of space that pose object and environment as two halves of the whole, Herrera poses the two together, a totality of space and interaction that invite each element into the other.
Alongside these works, the show also includes a series of drawings the artist completed for her original works in the series, showcasing the conceptual processes and early ideas that defined her impressive sculptural inventions here.
The show closes October 27th.
— D. Creahan
Carmen Herrera at Lisson Gallery [Exhibition Site]