Luchita Hurtado: Here I Am | Art21 “Extended Play”

Luchita Hurtado: Here I Am | Art21 “Extended Play”


[Luchita Hurtado: Here I Am] [MAN] Oh look, there you are. Okay, here we go! [HURTADO] Hi! Good to see you. Here I am! [WOMAN] You’re royalty! [ALL LAUGH] [APPLAUSE] [WOMAN, OFF SCREEN] Tonight, we celebrate
a historic moment for the Serpentine Galleries. We also celebrate
a historic moment for our artist. Luchita Hurtado is just one year short
of her one hundredth birthday. I think that deserves another round of applause. [APPLAUSE] Her career has been defined
by such a unique view of the world. Messages like, “When it comes to the environment,
there is nowhere to hide.” [HURTADO] That’s right! [WOMAN] This is her first solo exhibition– in a public institution, in fact. And it is also the first time
that we have shown over one hundred paintings
by an extraordinary artist, who has been named as “Time” magazine’s one hundred most influential figures of 2019.
[APPLAUSE] [John Mullican, Luchita’s son] [Matt Mullican, Luchita’s son] [HURTADO] Okay. These “Birthing” paintings are fun to do. Motherhood is full of wonderful,
wonderful times. What you can do with a sky
and a belly button… –[INTERVIEWER] How do you feel
about this one? –[HURTADO] I like it. –I like it. This joy that you feel with a new baby, this is a joy that
there is no explaining it, no talking about it. You have to smell it, you have to live it, to know it. –Okay, that’s it. –Yeah, it’s done! [LAUGHS] The important things are not money. The important things are
the animal part of us. We live in a very limited world, and we’re doing away with it
in a very systematic way. We should all be concerned. I came to America when I was eight years old. Before then, I lived in Venezuela– the outskirts of Caracas. I loved the design on butterfly wings. In the tropics, you have these
extraordinary butterflies. I would pin them to the wall. That pain I inflicted on those poor butterflies, I think about today. [JACOB SAMUEL] Do you want me to do
the number here? [HURTADO] The numbers, yeah. [SAMUEL] So this is going to be
an artist proof. I’m just going to put “A.P.” and then you put your “L.H.” over there. [Jacob Samuel, Master Printer] Okay, we’ve started. We did four aquatints, and this is the first one. This one is going to the show at
the Serpentine in London. And then there will be three
other ones for the gallery. It’s very exciting for me to
work with Luchita because it’s living history. I’ve worked with a number of artists
that she knows from her generation… [HURTADO] I go back a long time! [SAMUEL] So it really
completes the circle for me. [HURTADO] The name that I had growing up
was Garcia-Rodriguez. That’s like being called
“Smith Jones.” I decided that wasn’t right. I chose my grandmother
on my mother’s side: “Hurtado,” not “Garcia-Rodriguez.” In New York, I lived way uptown. I chose to go to a high school
that was downtown in the Village. My mother thought I was taking
a course in dress design, and I wasn’t. I was doing art. Man Ray took that photograph. And here, you see, is Lee. I married Lee Mullican,
and had two boys, John and Matt. It takes a great deal of energy, having the life of a parent and having the life of an artist, working and trying to make ends meet. My real painting, I could do at night, after everybody was asleep. [RYAN GOOD, STUDIO DIRECTOR]
I used to work for Matt, for a long time. And we knew each other. But them coming out here,
we started just to hang out. Go to the nursery. Go to the farmers market for lunch. [HURTADO] And then we became friends and really close. You discovered me! [GOOD] When I first started
finding the works from seventy years of her practice, I knew right away there was something there. With the family asking me
to help out with Lee’s estate, I started to uncover works
at Lee’s old studio, most of which were unsigned. Maybe only one in twenty
had the marker “L.H.” She changed her style quite often. It’s actually an interesting
element of her practice. It took maybe a year and a half
or two years to be able to find someone
that wanted to do a project. Hans Ulrich Obrist came across the work. [Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director] I remember hearing that he wanted to
have a visit with Luchita. It transformed everything
from then there on. She’s surprised and excited
that all of these things still exist. I think she thought many of them were lost. She’s making new work almost every day, so there’s new things all the time. Her new work is what
she’s most passionate about. [HURTADO] I’m very sensual. I love smells and tastes. I love fruit, you see. Religion is full of fruit. [LAUGHS] An apple means more than an apple! Those self portraits were
a real surprise to me. There’s one that has a streak of light
coming through the door. I concluded that’s all I had in the world, was myself. And I am who I am because I’m doing what I want to do, not what I’m told to do. In my dreams, I’m once again with Lee, who is long gone. And my children are small again, and I’m reliving the past. [BIRDS CHIRPING] Near the Museum of Natural History, I remember–across the way, in the park– there were feathers on the ground, of birds. Matt and I started collecting these feathers. We wore the feathers. Put them in our hair. We really enjoyed that time in our life. We’re all on this planet together, and we’re all related. Our closest relative is a tree, because they breathe out,
and we breathe in. –This is it! To be in this park with these trees
is marvelous. It’s just the joy of life– the joy of being alive.

21 thoughts on “Luchita Hurtado: Here I Am | Art21 “Extended Play””

  1. As a Venezuelan artist resident in the USA (and soon moving to Los Angeles to study my MFa in Photography at Calarts) I am very happy to see Luchita get the recognition she desirves. This is a great examplefor Venezuelan-American artists living in exile right now, specially those that are coming to the US. Felicitaciones Luchita, le das sentido completo a tu nombre, eres una luchadora. Congrats from another Venezuelan artists coming to LA. Hope to have the opportunity to meet you in person.

  2. Yes, very inspiring work. Thanks ART21 for sharing this beautiful insight in her process, view of her exhibition and more. Wish I will keep the same passion & energy when I will be her age. Life full of Art, Art full of Life.

  3. One of the most inspiring . and LIVELY – people alive – fully aware and articulate at 100 years old, too — another power of CREATIVITY (It keeps you young)

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