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 Theodore Nicolai Lukits  (1897 - 1992)

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Lived/Active: California / Hungary      Known for: portrait, landscape, nocturnes

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Ad Code: 3
Theodore Nicolai Lukits
from Auction House Records.
Idle Hour, circa 1918
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Note from Norm Davies:

When he was 94 years old I went to the Jonathan club in Los Angeles which
held a retrospective of his work. He was a long time member of that club and
decided to leave his painting to them. I met him and saw his range of work.
He was a traditionalist. There was no Cubism or Surrealism or anything
Known for his portraits of celebrities in Los Angeles, Theodore Lukits was born in Temesvar, Hungary and came to the United States in 1898. He studied at Washington University and later at the Art Institute of Chicago with Wellington Reynolds and Alphonse Mucha. In 1922, he moved to Los Angeles and established the Lukits Academy of Fine Art, which operated for 65 years.

Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
NOTE FROM Entera of Santa Barbara, California:

The years I spent studying with Mr. Lukits were among the most inspiring of my life. I believe that all of his students have had a similar experience. For some good background on Lukits and his methods, I recommend the notes by Peter Adams and Tim Solliday in the catalogue to the Carnegie Museum's retrospective show. They are extremely well-written and informative.

All I can really say is that when I walked into Mr. Lukits' studio for the first time in 1982, my whole life changed. There have only been a few moments in my personal history that had this impact. The incredible beauty of his work combined with the intensity and passion of his personality have never left me.

Lukits is not a household word because of his own decision (and personality) which made him unwilling to participate in the contemporary art "market", and rather maintain his "Lukits Academy of Art", which he likened to the work of monasteries holding onto knowledge during the Dark Ages.

If you've ever seen a real Lukits painting, you'll know that more than any other artist I've ever known, photography does not do the work justice. Lukits was well aware of the fact that his paintings contained so many subtleties that would never come across in even the finest photograph --- especially regarding color ---- and he was adamant about not allowing his pictures to be photographed. If it was absolutely necessary, then he insisted on black and white reproductions (I have a number of these large prints), because at least his tonal precision and composition would "read". One of the favorite "sports" of the students was snapping photographs of the many paintings he had stacked around his crowded studio. Of course, this was done with the aid and collusion of Lucille, and always when Lukits wasn't looking. I have many of these photos, as do the other students.

The years I spent studying with him have forever changed me, as I know they affected the many, many fine artists who were also transformed by Mr. Lukits and his art. There may have been artists (a few) who were more highly skilled, artists who had more imaginative visions, and artists who were more prolific as painters and/or sculptors. But there are few who can surpass the ability of Lukits to forever and completely affect the artistic souls of the young artists who came to him, and to whom he devoted his life in a desire to pass on what he could have easily channelled into an extraordinarily lucrative commercial career.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Theodore Lukits is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club
Painters of Grand Canyon

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