After winning accolades and racking up awards, including Sundance’s Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance, for her documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, filmmaker Alison Klayman is directing her attention to another fiercely independent artist: Carmen Herrera. Born in Cuba in 1915 but long a resident of New York City, Herrera has been painting for more than seven decades, six of which were in near total obscurity. It was only in 2004, at age 89, that Herrera sold her first painting. That was when her work started selling swiftly. It was “very pleasant to be recognized a little bit,” she told The Guardian a few years ago. “I’ve made it on to the cover of the New York Times without having to kill anyone. All I had to do was get old. The world came to me eventually – I just had to wait 94 years, that’s all.” Today her geometric paintings are in collections worldwide, including the Walker’s.
Last week, Klayman dropped by the Walker to conduct an on-camera interview with Walker Executive Director Olga Viso on Herrera’s work and legacy for her upcoming film, Carmen Herrera: The 100 Years Show, scheduled for release to coincide with the artist’s 100th birthday on May 31. In 2010, Viso acquired four works by Herrera for the Walker’s collection: a series of three gouache paintings on paper from 1966 and a rare sculptural work from 1971, which will be on view in the Walker’s upcoming 75th-anniversary exhibition, Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections.