Los Angeles
Art Guide

Los Angeles art galleries, exhibitions, news and editorial.

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The sprawling city of Los Angeles remains true to its diverse ethos, allowing space for expansive, internationally focused art institutions as well as D.I.Y., artist-run spaces. Explore the Los Angeles City Art Guide to discover more about the Los Angeles art scene.

Chosen as an additional site for Frieze Los Angeles in 2019, the city has a particular ethos with each of its neighbourhoods. Downtown Los Angeles hosts the two locations of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA).

MOCA was founded in 1979 to meet the desire for a Los Angeles contemporary art scene, becoming the first museum in the city to be exclusively devoted to contemporary art. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA was opened in 1983 in the Little Tokyo district of Downtown Los Angeles as a temporary space called 'Temporary Contemporary' while the main branch, MOCA Grand, was being built. The largest of the three and opened to much critical and public acclaim, Temporary Contemporary's lease was extended. The museum's permanent collection carries more than 7,000 objects in the form of sculpture, painting, and photography; including works by Louise Nevelson, Mark Rothko, Mike Kelley, Ana Mendieta, Lee Krasner, and more.

Downtown Los Angeles' museums include institutions such as The Broad, founded by philanthropists and avid art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad. Across the street from MOCA Grand and opened in 2015, The Broad's collection includes 2,000 works of postwar and contemporary art. Offering free admission, the museum is equally known for their spectacular installations that subsequently have full visiting lists, such as Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013). Other prominent artists in their collection include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker, and Cindy Sherman.

Downtown Los Angeles' galleries and art spaces also include François Ghebaly gallery, Night Gallery, and REDCAT, a multidisciplinary centre for visual, media, and performing arts, as inaugurated by CalArts in 2003. The project's architecture was designed by Frank Gehry and is located inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. In addition to local and international artists, the centre is the hub for avantgarde plays and shows. Art schools have had a major impact on the Los Angeles arts scene, with many art school graduates leading and expanding it, as relayed by major art and cultural critics and writers such as Chris Kraus.

Another major Los Angeles' art institution affiliated with a school is the Hammer Museum by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The Hammer Museum was founded by Dr. Armand Hammer and opened in 1990, featuring works from his collections, which were dominated by 19th-century and early 20th-century French impressionist and postimpressionist paintings. It wasn't until 1994 when the museum created a partnership with UCLA and in 1999 built on the Hammer Contemporary Collection. The Hammer is now known for its progressive exhibitions—both historical and contemporary—and focus on artists that have often been historically overlooked. Inaugurated in 2012, Made in L.A. is a biennial Los Angeles' exhibition organised by the Hammer Museum and featuring work exclusively by Los Angeles artists. The museum houses five collections: The Hammer Contemporary Collection; the collection of the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts; the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden; the Armand Hammer Collection, and the Armand Hammer Daumier and Contemporaries Collection. These collections include works ranging from Abstract Expressionism to European old master prints.

Nearby the Hammer Museum is the Getty Center, part of the larger J. Paul Getty Museum, popularly known as the Getty. The Getty Center was founded in 1997 and features Western art from the Middle Ages to contemporary. The second location, the Getty Villa, in Malibu, displays art from Ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria and was founded in 1974 and reopened in 2006, having closed during the Getty Center's opening. Known for its collection of antiquities, drawings, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, and sculptural and decorative arts, highlights include works by Rembrandt, Édouard Manet, Robert Mapplethorpe, Greek and Roman marble statues, and Byzantine manuscripts. The Getty hosts a variety of other programmes dedicated to research and conservation, maintaining an important relationship in both conserving and generating arts in Los Angeles.

Major art landmarks in Los Angeles include the Watts Towers—a sculpture by 'outsider artist' Simon Rodia—and the exhibition space, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, known for its archive of the visual arts in the city, and experimental venue, Human Resources.

Image: Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo: The Angels 2010 (CC BY-SA 3.0).

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