By her 94th year, Ms. Herrera, Giacometti thin, with wire-rim glasses and shoulder-length bone-white hair, was homebound, a regal woman in a wheelchair, afflicted with arthritis, but still painting. How had she persevered after decades of being unknown?
“I do it because I have to do it; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure,” she told The Times in 2009. “I never in my life had any idea of money, and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. So I just worked and waited. And at the end of my life, I’m getting a lot of recognition, to my amazement and my pleasure, actually.”
As she turned 100 in 2015, her status in the modern art canon was affirmed by the release of a half-hour documentary, “The 100 Years Show,” by Alison Klayman, and by inclusion of Ms. Herrera’s diptych, “Blanco y Verde” (1959), with works by Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin and Jasper Johns as the Whitney Museum of American Art opened its new home in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
“It’s about time,” Ms. Herrera told a reporter over a Scotch at her loft, on East 19th Street near Union Square. “There’s a saying that you wait for the bus and it will come. I waited almost a hundred years.”
In 2016, Ms. Herrera was showered with encomiums when the Whitney opened “Lines of Sight,” an exhibition of 50 of her paintings focusing on the period 1948 to 1978, years in which she developed her signature geometric abstractions, including a canvas featuring backgammon-like elongated triangles, titled “A City” (1948).
“At 101, the artist Carmen Herrera is finally getting the show the art world should have given her 40 or 50 years ago: a solo exhibition at a major museum in New York,” Karen Rosenberg wrote in The Times. “The show presents her as an artist of formidable discipline, consistency and clarity of purpose, and a key player in any history of postwar art.”