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Santa Monica Artist Who Won Late Recognition Dead at Age 99
 

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By Jorge Casuso

August 17, 2020 -- Artist Luchita Hurtado -- who saw a resurgence late in life after a quiet career that spanned seven decades -- died in her Santa Monica home Thursday. She was 99.

The Venezuelan-born artist was known for paintings, drawings and engravings that hearkened back to the surrealist movement of her youth and featured bold iconography.

Luchita Hurtado drawing
Luchita Hurtado, untitled, c. 1975, graphite on paper, 11 3/8 × 20 5/8 inches

Hurtado lived for years on Mesa Road in Santa Monica canyon and continued painting in her studio into her late nineties, winning glowing reviews in major art magazines

Born in Maiquetía, Venezuela, in 1920, Hurtado began painting in 1945 and eventually participated in art scenes in New York; Mexico City; Toas, New Mexico and Los Angeles, where she moved in 1951.

Her work spanned more than 70 years and embraced different movements, including surrealism, Mexican muralism, feminism and environmentalism.

She was part of group exhibitions in Los Angeles in the early 1970s that showcased the work of feminist artists but, although she continued making art, whe was mainly overshadowed by the artworks of her husbands.
Luchita Hurtado

In 1998, curators going through the estate of her third husband, artist Lee Mullican, discovered works signed with her initials, leading to her first exhibit in a quarter century.

In 2017, Hurtado's works were displayed at the Annenberg Community Beach House and included the following year in the Hammer Museum's "Made in L.A." exhibition.

"Hurtado’s work was multicultural before multicultural was cool," wrote LA Times art critic Christopher Knight.

Hurtado -- who once said art was as necessary to her as brushing her teeth -- continued working in her studio into her nineties.

"If you live long enough, you will feel like you’ve had three lifetimes," Hurtado told Artforum.

Hurtado is survived by two sons, Matt Mullican, a multimedia and performance artist, and John Mullican, a filmmaker, and two grandchildren.


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