ClicLuchita Hurtado is 98. She is an artist. She has worked alongside some of the great artists of the 20th century almost without recognition. Today numerous articles and papers are being written about her. She has a solo exhibition at Hauser and Wirth, New York.
Imagine walking into her studio....
It is brightly lit with large windows. Painted white; full of creative order. She is sparklingly alive, almost magical. When she speaks her New York accent doesn’t fully hide her Latin American roots. Her eyes have sparkle and she looks like she will laugh at any moment. She invites you into the studio. Walls and windows painted white, pictures pinned up for inspiration and remembering. The studio is ordered and tidy. There is a piece of work there, a landscape that is Luchitta’s own body. It is painted with a bright blue sky, something like the sky’s she must have grown up with in venezuela. The Earth is represented by her naked body as if viewed from her own eyes. In the Made in LA exhibition of 2018 this piece is displayed with other paintings showing sky and feathers and views of the sky though “holes” in the Earth as if you might be a small animal looking up out of a burrow.
Luchita has spent her life in the company of accomplished artists, she was married to two; Wolfgang Paalen and Lee Mullican. She had a first husband who she married in New York when she was very young. She is coy about discussing this expect to laugh about running off with Lee at one point.
At 97 she has a good grasp of her story and her studio gives evidence to recent and consistent working. She speaks with a quiet and delightful passion about her connection to the earth and especially the trees. Somehow in her studio it feels like being with someone who is almost mythical. She is used to the shadows as she has hidden in them at times stoping work almost entirely in the Ruth of her children and then later in to support her artist husbands.
The death of one of her children from her fist marriage probably brought the marriage to an end and the insistence that Paalen that he didn’t want children possibly ended their manage her third child who she had with Lee Mullican was 11 years after her first. Her life and studio seem ordered she is keen to talk but doesn’t make you too comfortable, her strong mind refutes any suggestions about her life that have been retold wrongly. It a long life and she is acutely aware of it. It is nice to talk about her paintings. You get a sense that too many people want to talk more about her life and the lives of her artist world. She is generous when she talks of others and all that they have done and shared.
Was she a feminist you ask, of course and right in the midst of the American Feminist Art movement. There were groups of women artist that met up in the70’s to share and to talk. Women like Jenny Chicago and Mimi Shapiro. Although Mullican encouraged her to work she tells you she found it difficult to accept that she was working as well as him. She had a studio and she made work but it was somehow different.
Her place is hospitable and she says she has always been busy with people. You can relate to that you are too and you have given up time for children and a husband’s career. She has forty years on you, if you have forty years left will you be working so well and with such strength?
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