Cuban-born painter Carmen Herrera took private drawing lessons as a child, and as a teenager in the 1930s she was sent to Paris for further studies. After returning to Havana around 1935 she studied architecture at the Universidad de La Habana (Univeristy of Havana) for about two years. After marrying English teacher Jesse Loewenthal in 1939, the couple moved to New York, where she studied at the Art Students League. There she met fellow artists Wifredo Lam (1902–1982) and Barnett Newman (1905–1970). In the late 1940s Herrera relocated to Paris, where she participated four times in the annual Salon des Réalités Nouvelles at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris. During those years Herrera encountered many other artists and began to simplify her compositions. First she painted compositions of contrasting optical forms by arranging small, geometric forms in three or more bold colors. She then began to explore the infinite possibilities of formal simplicity. She also experimented with symmetry and asymmetry in sharp-edged chromatic planes and with shaped canvases and monochrome sculpture-paintings. In 1954 Herrera finally settled in New York and continued painting. In 2016 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York organized her first retrospective.