LATE BLOOMER

Abstract Painter Carmen Herrera Comes Into Own at 94

Wheelchair-bound 94-year-old Carmen Herrera is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Five years ago, the Cuban-born artist sold her first piece ever. More purchases flooded in thereafter, and Herrera's works can now command as much as $44,000. Since 2004, the abstract painter has been inducted into the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirschorn Museum, and the Tate Modern, and she recently received a lifetime achievement award from the director of Minneapolis' Walker Art Center. She's even a subject of study for art historians. Herrera's slow start can be credited to her status as a Hispanic female artist, and also to her unfortunately timed arrival in New York when Abstract Expressionism was all the rage. Trained at the Salon of New Realities in Paris, the New York galleries weren't interested in what Herrera had to offer, which was a minimalist, geometric, and Latin American sensibility. Always one to shun fame and fortune, Herrera says of her craft, "I do it because I have to do it; it's a compulsion that also gives me pleasure." One of her recent exhibitions made The Observer's year's 10 best list, alongside a Picasso show. Herrera's arrival, it seems, is complete.