Carmen Herrera has painted practically since she was a girl. She was in Paris after World War II, involved with the influential Salon des Réalités Nouvelles with the likes of the famous Alsatian sculptor Jean Arp. But Carmen Herrera didn’t sell a painting until she was 89–just ten years ago. That is what’s called patience, with a supernatural amount of perseverance underneath fueling it. Suddenly (ha!), Carmen Herrera’s paintings are now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
The now 99-year-old Herrera, born in Havana in 1915, has even lived long enough to see her native country recognized by the US–after an estrangement that lasted nearly as long as it took Herrera to sell a picture. This week she’s portrayed as one of the Old Masters in a New York Times Magazine feature. She offers a simple recipe for her success, at long last–an attitude that allowed her talent to properly flourish. What did she think all those decades when she worked but never sold? “I was never bitter,” says Carmen Herrera. “I always wished others well.”