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Here I AmLuchita Hurtado

June 26, 2019

One of five new films from Art21’s spring/summer 2019 programming

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.”

More information and credits


Producer: Ian Forster. Interview: Ian Forster. Editor: Morgan Riles. Camera: Matt Conway and Christoph Lerch. Assistant Camera: Matt Ward. Colorist: Jonah Greenstein. Sound Mix: Adam Boese. Artwork Courtesy: Luchita Hurtado and Hauser & Wirth. Music: Blue Dot Sessions. Special Thanks: Ryan Good, Brenna Ivanhoe, Cole Root, Jacob Samuel, and Serpentine Galleries.

Extended Play is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the Art21 Contemporary Council; Ellen P. and Jack J. Kessler; and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Luchita Hurtado

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.” Hurtado lived and worked in Santa Monica, California, where she passed away in August 2020.

“I am who I am because I’m doing what I want to do, not what I’m told to do.”

Luchita Hurtado