Lisson Gallery’s New York Space to Open With Solo Show by Carmen Herrera

The exhibition arrives in advance of a solo show at the Whitney.

Carmen Herrera at work on a painting. Photo by Jason Schmidt. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, London.

Lisson Gallery’s New York outpost is on its way. Located directly under the High Line at 504 West 24th Street, the space will open on May 3, 2016—during the height of the Frieze Week festivities—with a show of new work by Cuban-born, New York-based painter Carmen Herrera, who will celebrate her 101st birthday that month.

“Carmen Herrera: Recent Works” will showcase 20 major paintings produced within the past two years—no small feat given Herrera’s age.

The exhibition will also proceed a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in fall 2016, and will feature a fully-illustrated exhibition catalog with photos of Herrera’s home and studio. The artist has lived in the same Manhattan apartment since 1954.

“It’s a very fitting tribute to Carmen, who I feel has been really under-recognized and under-represented, especially in the city where she lives,” Alex Logsdail, the director of the New York space, said during a press event.

Carmen Herrera, Alba (2014). Photo: Carmen Herrera, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Carmen Herrera, Alba (2014).
Photo: Carmen Herrera, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

While she was a contemporary of many successful Abstract Expressionist artists, she painted in relative obscurity until the early aughts, when she was discovered by Frederico Sève of New York’s Latin Collector Gallery. She sold her first painting at age 89. Herrera’s unflinchingly abstract, hard-edged compositions are now all the rage.

When Herrera’s friend, painter Tony Bechara, first showed her work to Sève, he reportedly mistook it for that of Lygia Clark. But turning over the paintings to examine their dates, he realized they predated the works of the more famous Clark by a decade, according to the New York Times.

“Wow, wow, wow,” he told the Times. “We got a pioneer here.”

Since then, the demand for Herrera’s work has steadily increased, especially as the art world predilection for “rediscovered” artists continues.

“How else really could we open a gallery in New York other than by showing this really iconic New York artist?” said curatorial director Greg Hilty. “We’ve been working with her for the last five years and we’ve seen amazing growth in the interest in her work.”

Carmen Herrera, Costa del Sol (2015). Photo: Carmen Herrera, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Carmen Herrera, Costa del Sol (2015).
Photo: Carmen Herrera, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Founded in 1967, the London-based gallery with an outpost in Milan has a long history of giving New York artists their first UK show, and hopes to provide a similar service in New York, focusing on artists who aren’t currently represented or widely shown in the US. The gallery briefly operated a project space in New York in the ’70s, and currently has an office and showroom; however, this will be their first commercial gallery in the city to date.

“This is a thing that has literally been in the works for about 30 years,” said Logsdail. “It took a couple of years to find something really suitable—we looked kind of all over town before we found a space. Which isn’t really a space. It’s more of an empty lot on which we have built something that we really thought was perfect.”

Designed by studioMDA and Studio Christian Wasserman, the 8,000-square-foot space will span a city block, connecting 24th and 23rd street. The interior, which has been constructed around the High Line, will boast two massive skylights and polished concrete floors.

In July, the gallery will present a film installation by John Akomfrah, a star of last year’s Venice Biennale. Following Akomfrah will be shows by Ryan Gander and Ai Weiwei.

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