Introduction

Born in Maiquetía, Venezuela, in 1920, Luchita Hurtado dedicated over eighty years of her extensive oeuvre to the investigation of universality and transcendence. Developing her artistic vocabulary through a coalescence of abstraction, mysticism, corporality and landscape, the breadth of her experimentation with unconventional techniques, materials and styles speak to the multicultural and experiential contexts that shaped her life and career. Hurtado emigrated to the United States in 1928, settling in New York where she attended classes at the Art Students League. She relocated to Mexico City in the late 1940s and, in the following decade, moved to San Francisco Bay, ultimately settling in Santa Monica, California and making frequent visits to her second home in Taos, New Mexico.

Although she associated with a vast network of internationally renowned artists and intellectuals, including members of the Dynaton, the Mexican muralists, and the Surrealists, Hurtado’s practice had always remained an independent pursuit. Her body of work is cohered through an examination of self-affirmation, introduced in her early period from the 1940s to the 1960s in an output defined by surrealist figuration, biomorphism and geometric abstraction, executed in brightly hued palettes with striking expressive range. Hurtado’s work continued to evolve throughout the 1960s and 1970s, demonstrating a fluid shift towards representative figuration that led to a production of contemplative self-portraits known as her ‘I Am’ paintings. Asserting her presence through a personal perspective of the body — rendered from above at skewed angles — Hurtado coalesced the viewer’s gaze with hers, creating a depth of field activated by the unexpected position of the floor as a backdrop, juxtaposing soft corporeal lines against the hard edge geometric patterns of the environments beneath her. This series was followed by a group of surrealist ‘Body Landscapes’ wherein the human figure assumes the form of mountains and desert sand dunes, and her late 1970s, ‘Sky Skin’ series, where feathers weightlessly float in bright blue skies. The works from this period were informed by Hurtado’s newly reinforced feminist ideals and involvement with the Los Angeles Council of Women Artists. Many members of this group would later form the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, where Hurtado’s first solo exhibition was hosted in 1974.

In recent years, Hurtado continued to explore themes of language and nature with her work, focusing on the planet, natural elements, and the environment, in recognition of the urgency of the ecological crisis. These works function as symbolic proxies and intimate meditations on the Earth as mystic progenitor, underscoring the interconnectedness between corporeality and the natural world. Today, her environmental advocacy continues to inform and suffuse the ever-expansive visual language of her practice.

In 2019, Hurtado was listed in TIME 100’s most influential people and received the Americans for the Arts Carolyn Clark Powers Lifetime Achievement Award. Hurtado’s first solo museum exhibition, ‘I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn’, opened at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London in 2019 when the artist was 98 years old. The exhibition then travelled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in February 2020

Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

2022
Luchita Hurtado,
Hauser & Wirth, Southampton, New York
2022
Luchita Hurtado,
Hauser & Wirth, London, England
2021
I Live Here,
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive Art Wall, Berkeley, CA
2020
Together Forever,
Hauser & Wirth, New York, 22nd Street
2020
Just Down the Street,
Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland
2020
I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn (Travelling Exhibition),
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
2019
Dark Years,
Hauser & Wirth, New York, 69th Street
2019
I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn (Travelling Exhibition),
Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, England
2017
Figures and Icons,
Annenberg Community Beach House, Santa Monica, CA
2016
Luchita Hurtado: Selected Works 1942-1950,
Park View, Los Angeles, CA
1974
Luchita Hurtado, Grandview One,
The Woman’s Building, Los Angeles, CA

Group Exhibitions

2021
Arcimboldo Face to Face,
Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France
2020
Valley of Gold: Southern California and the Phantasmagoric,
Hauser & Wirth, Kasmin Gallery
2019
Totemists,
LY, Los Angeles, CA
2019
Material Actions,
Hauser & Wirth St. Moritz, St. Moritz, Switzerland
2018
Made in L.A. 2018,
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
2018
Summer Nocturne: Works on Paper from the 1970s,
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
2018
Painting: Now and Forever, Part III,
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY
2018
The Gallery @ Michael’s
, Santa Monica, CA
2018
Gallery Share,
Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2016
Home,
Night Club, Chicago, IL
2007
Women Artists of Southern California Then and Now,
Track 16, Santa Monica, CA
2004
Santa Monica Originals,
Arena 1, Santa Monica, CA
1994
The Mystical in Art: Chicano/Latino Painting,
Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA
1990
West by Southwest,
Transamerica Galleries, Los Angeles, CA
1972
Invisible/Visible ,
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
The Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Wescher,
Art Center, La Jolla, CA

Lectures

2020
Luchita Hurtado and Chris Wiley in Conversation,
Equitable Vitrines, Los Angeles, CA
2018
Patterns Found in the World: Luchita Hurtado and Andrianna Campbell,
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
2018
Luchita Hurtado in Conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist,
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2013
Farewell to Surrealism: Luchita Hurtado in Conversation with Annette Leddy,
Les Figues Press, Venice, CA

Bibliography

Monographs

2020
Marta, Karen (ed.), Obrist, Hans Ulrich, Luchita Hurtado, (Zurich: Hauser & Wirth Publishers)
2019
Constable, Joseph, Lewin, Rebecca (eds.), Luchita Hurtado. I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn, (Cologne: Walther König)
2019
Lehrer-Graiwer, Sarah, Luchita Hurtado: Dark Years, (New York: Hauser & Wirth Publishers)

Writing

1974
Hurtado, Luchita, Reminiscences: Luchita Hurtado, ( New York: Heresies vol. 1, no. 4, p. 83)

Publications

2021
Obrist, Hans Ulrich, Stasinopoulos, ostas (eds.), 140 Artists’ Ideas for Planet Earth, (London, UK, Serpentine Galleries: Penguin Random House)
2020
Obrist, Hans Ulrich (ed.), It’s Urgent! A Luma project curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, (Cologne: Walther König)
2020
Kamien-Kazhdan, Adina (ed.) , Bodyscapes (exh. cat.), (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum)
2018
Ellegood, Anne, Christovale, Erin, Made In L.A. 2018, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (exh. cat.), (Munich/New York: DelMonico Books/Prestel)
2016
Hopkins, David (ed.), A Companion to Dada and Surrealism, (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell)
1985
Albright, Thomas, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-1980, An Illustrated History, (Berkeley: University of California Press)
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