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Luchita Hurtado finds her fame

posted by Chrysanthe Tenentes   Apr 04, 2019

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I am blown away by the story of Luchita Hurtado, an artist whose work since the 40s has remained largely out of public view. She has her first two major solo exhibitions this year (at the age of 98!): Dark Years, drawings from the 40s and 50s at Hauser & Wirth’s uptown location (closes April 6), and a seven-decade retrospective at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery later in May. She lived and worked in New York (where she immigrated with her family from Venezuela at the age of 8), Marin County, Mexico City, Santa Monica, and Taos, New Mexico. Her work has evolved, as you can imagine, over the decades. Her life and work have brought her in contact with Isamu Noguchi, Judy Chicago, Agnes Martin, Man Ray, Frida Kahlo. Her third husband was painter Lee Mullican. You just get the sense that she’s lived a true 20th century life, and is now getting to break out of that in a proper 21st century way.

The New York Times on Luchita Hurtado in January:

In her expansive oil paintings, ink-based drawings, fabric collages and patterned garments, Hurtado explores what she sees as the interconnectedness of all beings. Her paintings from the ’70s — sinuous bodies that morph into mountains, bare nipples that juxtapose spiky leaves, bulbous fruits that echo curving belly shapes — represent women as sacred beings, powerful subjects of their own lives. Hurtado also incorporated womb imagery into her work before the feminist art movement made popular the same subject matter in the late ’70s.

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Hans Ulrich Obrist, is curating her retrospective at the Serpentine, has this to say:

“Women artists have not had the visibility they should have and we need to protest, systematically, against forgetting — through books and exhibitions,” Obrist says. The exhibition at the Serpentine will be animated by what he calls “decisive moments or epiphanies” throughout Hurtado’s life.

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Related: You can see the stunning retrospective of Hilma af Klint, another female artist long overlooked, at the Guggenheim until April 23. I’m intrigued by HILMA inspired by the af Klint show, playing for two nights as part of the very special Works & Process series. The chamber opera stars a relative of Hilma’s as Rudolf Steiner, and his wife as Hilma herself (who produced and created the piece).