Luchita Hurtado's P.O.V.

Luchita Hurtado, untitled, 1970
Who's 21 years older than Bernie Sanders and is having the best year of her career? So far as I know, the one correct answer is Luchita Hurtado. Venezuelan-born and mostly Santa Monica-active, Luchita Hurtado was married to two artists (Wolfgang Paalen and Lee Mullican) and is mother to another (Matt Mullican). She moved in the best modernist circles, associating with Isamu Noguchi, Robert Motherwell, Agnes Martin, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Luis Bunuel, Buckminster Fuller, Alan Watts, Judy Chicago, and Vija Celmins.

Despite these connections, Hurtado's art was largely unknown until son Matt started settling dad Lee's estate, uncovering much of Luchita's oeuvre in storage. In the Hammer's 2018 biennial, Hurtado was a popular, critical, and media favorite (part of the story being, 98-year-old artist makes good). Now LACMA is presenting "Luchita Hurtado: I Live I Die I Will be Reborn," organized with the Serpentine Galleries (London), where it debuted. Hurtado will turn 100 this Oct. 28.
Luchita Hurtado, untitled, 1947–49
The exhibition, on the top floor of BCAM, begins with suave mid-century abstractions in the mode of Dynaton. Hurtado was never officially accepted as a member of that West Coast movement, despite the fact that it was co-founded by two of her three husbands. Hurtado and Lee Mullican maintained separate studios throughout their long marriage.
Installation view of Woman's Building paintings at LACMA
Hurtado discovered feminism in the 1970s, joining a consciousness-raising group with Vija Celmins and Alexis Smith. She turned down Joyce Kozloff's invitation to help start an L.A. chapter of the Guerrilla Girls (objecting that "just the name was too much") but accepted an offer to do an installation of abstract paintings at L.A.'s Woman's Building. The works, reunited here, are text-based, sliced into strips and recombined like a puzzle.

Hurtado has said she disliked 1970s feminist art's use of the vagina as subject matter. But in the same decade she devised her own original approach to the body in the so-called point of view (POV) paintings. Hurtado records her nude body from the viewpoint of, well, her own eyes. As exercises in perspective they rival the originality of Parmigianino's Self-Portrait a Convex Mirror. Hurtado's self-portraits use no mirrors, instead documenting a visual reality too familiar to notice. (The rugs collected by Hurtado and Mullican supply a jazzy, Charles Scheeler note.)
Luchita Hurtado, untitled, c. 1970s
Hurtado is also known for desert landscapes were made in Taos, where she and Lee Mullican spent summers. Though contemporary with the minimalism of Agnes Martin they also drawn on the transcendentalism of Agnes Pelton. One untitled work, above, suggests a medieval mappa mundi. Others evoke the digitally melded collages of NASA. The map is not the territory, but with Hurtado the landscape is a body.
Luchita Hurtado, Night into Day, 1978