Luchita Hurtado’s body of work


Luchita Hurtado reflects on her eight-decade-long career and the relationship between the human body and the natural world that is embedded in her work. In her Santa Monica studio, Hurtado works on a new painting from her “Birthing” series, discussing how her experience of motherhood and her commitment to environmental activism merge in this most recent body of work. Born in Venezuela, Hurtado describes her childhood growing up in New York City, her first art classes, and the challenges of starting a family while maintaining an artistic practice. “It takes a great deal of energy, having the life of a parent and having the life of an artist,” recounts Hurtado. “My real painting, I could do at night after everyone was asleep.” Speaking with her studio director, Ryan Good, Hurtado explains that it was not until recent years that her work began receiving more attention from curators and museums. The artist travels to the Serpentine Galleries in London to celebrate her first solo exhibition at a public institution, showcasing over one hundred works and charting her many styles of painting and drawing: from dynamic abstractions of human figures to bold self-portraits that depict the artist’s body from her own downward-facing perspective, from swirling blue skies with floating feathers to paintings with words like “AIR,” “WATER,” and “EARTH” embedded within them. Back in Los Angeles, Hurtado paints “en plein air” in a local park and elucidates on the tenuous relationship between humans and nature, which is the focus of her newest work. “We’re all on this planet together and we’re all related,” says the artist. “To be in this park, with these trees, it’s just the joy of life.” Working in painting, drawing, and prints, Luchita Hurtado has experimented with many different styles over the course of her 80-year career, yet maintained a unique, independent practice that explores the relationship between the human body and the natural world. In reference to a striking series of self-portraits from the 1960s and 1970s, in which the artist painted her body from her own downward facing perspective, Hurtado states, “I concluded that’s all I had in the world, was myself. I am who I am because I’m doing what I want to do, not what I’m told to do.”

Cite this page as: Art21, "Luchita Hurtado’s body of work," in Smarthistory, January 14, 2021, accessed May 27, 2024,