Fall is the official start of the “Art Season” and the Museums and Galleries in Los Angeles runneth over in fantastic and thoughtful work. Below are just a few exhibits we think you can’t miss. Come for a visit, or just get off your couch and hop on the Metro and check out at all the beautiful (and sometimes weird) art shows LA has to offer.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
"Nineteen Nineteen" (Through Jan. 20, 2020)
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens kicks off its yearlong Centennial Celebration with Nineteen Nineteen, a major exhibition that examines the institution and its founding through the prism of a single, tumultuous year. Featuring more than 250 objects drawn from The Huntington's library and art collections, the exhibition is organized around themes defined by the verbs "Fight," "Return," "Map," "Move," and "Build." Highlights include representative items from 1919 such as a 37-foot map of a Pacific Electric (Red Car) route in Los Angeles, astronomical photographs of the moon and constellations, German Revolution posters, and suffragist pamphlets, alongside important works acquired by Henry E. Huntington in the lead-up to that year, such as the original manuscript of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, the journal of Aaron Burr, and the memoirs of Gen. William T. Sherman.
"What Now, Part I" (Oct. 19, 2019 - Feb. 17, 2020)
What Now: Collecting for the Library in the 21st Century is a two-part exhibition that invites visitors to consider the continued relevance of the role of The Huntington's library in documenting the human experience. The more than 100 items featured (about 50 in each of two consecutive installations) represent recent trends in developing The Huntington's Library collection and range from a 15th-century Middle English manuscript of one of the foundational texts of travel literature to large-scale inkjet botanical prints made in 2009 by California artist Jane O'Neal. All works on view have been acquired in the 21st century, and this is the first time that they will be on public display at The Huntington. What Now, Part II will be on view May 1 - Aug. 24, 2020.
"Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again" - The Broad (Through Feb. 16, 2020)
Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again is the largest exhibition to date of internationally acclaimed artist Shirin Neshat’s approximately 30-year career. Taking its title from a poem by Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, the exhibition (which presents approximately 230 photographs and eight video works) offers a rare glimpse into the evolution of Neshat’s artistic journey as she explores topics of exile, displacement, and identity with beauty, dynamic formal invention, and poetic grace. Beginning with her early photograph series, Women of Allah, the exhibition also features iconic video works such as Rapture, Turbulent, and Passage, monumental photography installations including The Book of Kings and The Home of My Eyes, and Land of Dreams, a new body of photographs and two immersive videos that will make its global debut in the exhibition. Tickets for this exhibition are now on sale.
Hauser & Wirth
"Charles Gaines: Palm Trees and Other Works" (Through Jan. 5, 2020)
Palm Trees and Other Works is Hauser & Wirth's first exhibition with Charles Gaines, noted American artist, educator, and recipient of the 2019 Edward MacDowell Medal. This exhibition debuts new works from his signature Gridworks series. Employing native trees from Palm Canyon near Palm Springs, these luminous works have evolved from Gaines’ rigorous application of his numbered systems – a process central to an esteemed, decades-long practice that interrogates the relationship between the object and its subjective realms. Gaines is also presenting a new series of watercolors based on assorted trees as well as Manifestos 3 (2018), the latest contribution to a series from which earlier examples reside in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum in Westwood and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
"Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971" (Through Jan. 5, 2020)
Hauser & Wirth presents the first solo Los Angeles exhibition in over half a century dedicated to American artist Philip Guston. Resilience: Philip Guston in 1971 sheds light on a single pivotal year that launched Guston into the final prolific decade of his career, during which he painted what are now celebrated as some of the most important works of art of the 20th Century. On view will be two major series, the Roma paintings and the Nixon drawings, accompanied by a select group of larger works. Created during a time of social and political turmoil in the United States, these works bear witness to an artist at the height of his powers, exquisitely responsive to his world. Resilience is curated by the artist’s daughter, Musa Mayer, and will be accompanied by a new publication.
"Open House: Gala Porras-Kim" (Through May 11, 2020)
As part of its centennial celebration, MOCA debuted a new ongoing series of exhibitions titled Open House. For the first time in its history, MOCA invites Los Angeles-based artists to organize exhibitions drawn from the museum’s extensive collection of objects. The second iteration of this exhibition series will be Open House: Gala Porras-Kim. For her MOCA exhibition, Porras-Kim seeks to explore the ways in which museums act as stewards of the art it owns. Her exhibition brings together a diverse set of artworks (and other ephemeral materials) to shed light on the role the museum and its staff of curators, registrars, and conservators play in the life of the works in its permanent collection.
"With Pleasure" (Oct. 27, 2019 - May 11, 2020)
With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. Covering the years 1972 to 1985 and featuring approximately 50 artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art.
"Under a Mushroom Cloud" - JANM (Nov. 9, 2019 - June 7, 2020)
To commemorate the upcoming 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo presents Under a Mushroom Cloud: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Atomic Bomb, organized in partnership with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In addition to photographs, explanatory texts, and artifacts belonging to bomb victims, Under a Mushroom Cloud will also include contemporary artworks that provide an array of perspectives on the effects of the atomic bombs and their impact on people today. The exhibition will shed light on this painful history and provide a safe space for discussion, in the hope that such an event never occurs to any person or country again.
California African American Museum
"Timothy Washington: Citizen/Ship" (Through March 1, 2020)
Los Angeles–based artist Timothy Washington has crafted a visionary display of mixed-media works in his Leimert Park residence for over fifty years. A prominent figure during the Black Arts Movement—a key moment in the 1960s and 1970s when African American artists and writers collectively celebrated black culture—Washington has been a pioneer of socio-politically charged work ever since, exhibiting both locally and nationally with renowned fellow artists such as Charles White and David Hammons.
Timothy Washington: Citizen/Ship presents Washington’s very first installation project, a powerful yet playful collection of works that meld American patriotism with Afrofuturistic narratives of fantasy and science fiction. Through references to technology, utopia, and mysticism, Citizen/Ship speaks to both the negative and positive aspects of American culture, emphasizing issues that affect black lives: violence, racism, and displacement, but also survival, hope, love, and reconciliation.
"Making Mammy" (Through March 1, 2020)
Making Mammy: A Caricature of Black Womanhood, 1840–1940 explores how the mammy figure was produced in an effort to temper the atrocities of enslavement and serve southern interests domestically, economically, and politically. Popularized into the 20th century by characters such as “Mammy” in MGM’s hit film Gone with the Wind (1939), this archetype of black domestic servitude was often depicted as good-natured, overweight, and loud. Bringing together films, photographs, and artifacts, Making Mammy examines the legacy of the institutionalized stereotype, considering a century of complex manufacturing of black femininity, power dynamics, and mass-media messaging that still affects black women’s body image, lack of agency, and sense of self.
"Cross Colours" (Through March 1, 2020)
In 1990, during the first season of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, lead actor Will Smith wore boldly hued and geometric pattern clothes designed by a young Los Angeles–based urban apparel line called Cross Colours. Founded by Carl Jones and T.J. Walker, the brand skyrocketed and broke color barriers in men’s apparel. Working in the Golden Age of Hip Hop in the late '80s and '90s, Jones and Walker incorporated bright colors and graphic designs that reflected not just fashion trends, but also embraced Afrocentrism in response to unjust Reagan-era policies, rising poverty, police brutality, and substandard educational opportunities.
The first exhibition to examine this groundbreaking brand, Cross Colours: Black Fashion in the 20th Century showcases vintage textiles, media footage, and rare ephemera that illuminate how Cross Colours has permeated popular culture and how fashion can be used to tell history anew.
"Gold at the [Au]try" - Autry Museum of the American West (Through July 19, 2020)
Gold is a precious, beautiful metal, but it can also be an empty promise. A desire for gold has led to atrocities large and small, yet its allure remains. Discover a range of gold-related artworks and artifacts through Gold at the [Au]try, a new self-guided tour and special exhibits. Core-gallery changes throughout the museum enhance the experience.
Vincent Price Art Museum
Gabriela Ruiz: Full of Tears (Through Feb. 15, 2020)
In her first solo museum exhibition, Full of Tears, multidisciplinary artist and designer Gabriela Ruiz (aka Leather Papi) speculates on the mechanics of memory and the intersections of technology and emotion through 3-D rendering, video mapping, and installation.
George Rodriguez: Double Vision (Oct. 19, 2019 - Feb. 29, 2020)
The first career retrospective of this Los Angeles photographer, George Rodriguez: Double Vision spans more than 40 years of images, from the Chicano civil rights movement to everyday urban life, Hollywood celebrity circles, music, sports, and entertainment scenes.
Yolanda González: Sueño de Familia / Dream of Family (Nov. 16, 2019 - March 14, 2020)
Yolanda González: Sueño de Familia / Dream of Family examines the artistic legacy of five generations of artists within one family through drawings, paintings, ceramics, and printmaking spanning the 1870s to the present.
"New Deal was the first company primarily focused on street skating and street culture, and their smart, funny ads celebrated their role as the 'power to the people,' 'ear to the street' vanguard of skater-owned-and-run companies. Straight out of the gate, New Deal set the tone for the ’90s." - Shepard Fairey
"New Deal 1990" - Subliminal Projects (Through Oct. 26, 2019)
Subliminal Projects presents New Deal 1990, an exhibition celebrating the 30-year anniversary of New Deal Skateboards curated by longtime friends and collaborators Shepard Fairey and Andy Howell. The exhibition will feature original works by the team riders and artists of New Deal, a group show of artists inspired by the era, and various art and ephemera from collectors who have helped to preserve the New Deal legacy.
New Deal Skateboard Products relaunches in 2020 as a reimagined heritage brand drawing on its authentic foundation as a skater-run company. Setting the tone for the relaunch, the New Deal 1990 exhibition celebrates the first few years of the brand by once again bringing together the community of skaters, artists, musicians, and collectors who were integral to establishing the New Deal era, as well as artists inspired by New Deal’s role in influencing the skateboard industry and creative culture as its known today.
"Betye Saar: Call and Response" (Through April 5, 2020)
Los Angeles native Betye Saar is one of the most talented artists of her generation. Her work consistently addresses issues of race, gender, and spirituality. Very much a part of the strong assemblage tradition of Southern California, Saar’s work combines many different symbols along with objects found on her travels across Africa, Mexico, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean, as well as in LA itself. Betye Saar: Call and Response looks at the relationship between preliminary sketches in small sketchbooks, which Saar has made throughout her career, and finished works. From her early years through a new sculptural installation, this will be the first exhibition at a California museum to address Saar's entire career and the first anywhere to focus on her sketchbooks.
"Thomas Joshua Cooper: The World’s Edge" (Through Feb. 2, 2020)
For 50 years, Thomas Joshua Cooper has been making photographs outdoors. Often realized through intense physical travel to remote and isolated sites, these stunning, large-scale, black-and-white photographs encapsulate the psychological impact of the place through geographic and atmospheric details. Comprising 65 large-scale and 75 8x10 black-and-white photographs, The World's Edge showcases Cooper’s The Atlas of Emptiness and Extremity, The World’s Edge, the Atlantic Basin Project, which he first embarked upon in 1987, to chart the Atlantic Basin from the extreme points of each north, south, east, and west coordinate.
"Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art" (Through Dec. 8, 2019)
Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art celebrates one of the most distinctive and compelling aspects of Japanese art: the depiction of animals. Underpinned by Japan's unique spiritual heritage of Shintō and Buddhism, the Japanese reverence for nature—and the place of animals within that realm—is expressed in myriad works from ancient 6th-century clay sculpture to contemporary art. Arranged in themes such as Zodiac Animals, Animals from Nature, Religion, Myth and Folklore, and Leisure, the exhibition draws heavily from LACMA’s permanent collection and includes masterpieces from Japanese and American public and private collections, some of which are on view for the first time.
"Do Ho Suh: 348 West 22nd Street" (Nov. 10, 2019 – Oct. 25, 2020)
Best known for his full-size, fabric-and-steel reconstructions of his former residences in South Korea, Rhode Island, Berlin, London, and New York, Do Ho Suh’s creations of physicalized memory address issues of home, displacement, individuality, and collectivity, articulated through the architecture of domestic space. Fusing traditional Korean sewing techniques with 3D mapping technologies, 348 West 22nd Street replicates the artist’s ground-floor residence from a single New York building. In this immersive passageway of conjoined rooms, visitors pass through an ephemeral, ghostly representation of the artist’s personal history.
"Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific" (Dec. 15, 2019 – July 19, 2020)
The first substantial project on the art of Fiji to be mounted in the United States, Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific will feature over 225 artworks drawn from major international collections, including the Fiji Museum, British Museum, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Cambridge), the Smithsonian, and distinguished private collections. The exhibition will include figurative sculpture, ritual kava bowls, breastplates of pearl shell and whale ivory, large-scale barkcloths, small portable temples, weapons, and European watercolors and paintings.
Finding the Center: Works by Echiko Ohira (Through Jan. 5, 2020)
The first solo museum exhibition of LA-based artist Echiko Ohira, Finding the Center examines her prolific artistic production over the last two decades. Ohira’s work is based on repurposed paper, with her love of the material springing from her childhood in Japan and its vast paper traditions. In addition to paper, Ohira utilizes nails, thread, and other found materials to create sculptural forms and collages that explore the physical and spiritual centers of the human body, natural world, and larger cosmos.
Cynthia Minet: Jacked (Through Jan. 5, 2020)
Los Angeles sculptor Cynthia Minet’s colorful, multimedia installation Jacked is one-part animal and one-part machine. Combining the form of the Panthera atrox – an extinct North American lion whose remains have been excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits – with a modern-day oil pump jack, Minet addresses our complicated relationship with petrochemicals and the specific cultural and geological history of the Miracle Mile neighborhood.
RAW: Craft, Commodity, and Capitalism (Through Jan. 5, 2020)
RAW features nine contemporary artists who work with a range of commodities as artistic material to explore the historical and contemporary effects of global capitalism. Their deliberate use of these materials acknowledges the complex and enduring legacy of capitalistic structures, such as slavery, colonialism, and industrialization, and their human and environmental impact. Works in the exhibition will include sculptural pieces and installations created from cotton, sugar, copper, salt, porcelain, water, and other materials.
"Manet and Modern Beauty" (Through Jan. 12, 2020)
Édouard Manet was a provocateur and a dandy, the Impressionist generation’s great painter of modern Paris. Manet and Modern Beauty is the first-ever exhibition to explore the last years of Manet’s short life and career, revealing a fresh and surprisingly intimate aspect of this celebrated artist’s work. Stylish portraits, luscious still lifes, delicate pastels and watercolors, and vivid café and garden scenes convey Manet’s elegant social world and reveal his growing fascination with fashion, flowers, and his view of the parisienne—a feminine embodiment of modern life in all its particular, fleeting beauty.
"True Grit" (Through Jan. 19, 2020)
With works drawn from local museums, a private collection, and the Getty’s own collection, True Grit: American Prints and Photographs from 1900 to 1950 provides two vibrant surveys: one of early twentieth-century American printmaking and the other a complementary photography display. Compelling depictions of the time convey a broad view of American culture that includes dance halls and boxing rings, skyscrapers and subways, parks and tenement apartments. Using innovative techniques, these American artists captured the gritty world around them and came to terms with modern life.
"Peasants in Pastel" (Oct. 29, 2019 – May 10, 2020)
Long associated with aristocratic portraiture, pastel had fallen out of fashion by the mid-nineteenth century, when Jean-François Millet turned the powdery medium to a quite different purpose: scenes of contemporary peasant life. Peasants in Pastel: Millet and the Pastel Revival presents a selection of pastels by Millet and his followers, addressing the relationship between rural labor and urban collecting and encouraging visitors to consider how an artist’s chosen medium affects our understanding of his or her subject matter.
"Balthazar" (Nov. 19, 2019 – Feb. 16, 2020)
Early medieval legends reported that one of the three kings who paid homage to the newborn Christ Child in Bethlehem was from Africa. But it would be nearly a thousand years before artists began representing Balthazar, the youngest of the magi, as a black African. Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art explores the juxtaposition of a seemingly positive image with the difficult histories of Afro-European contact—in particular the brutal African slave trade—which informed European artists’ interest in representing race.
"Käthe Kollwitz" (Dec. 3, 2019 – March 29, 2020)
One of the foremost graphic artists of the 20th century, Käthe Kollwitz is celebrated for her affecting portrayals of the hardships of war, poverty, and injustice and for her technical virtuosity. Käthe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics is a selection of works on paper from the Dr. Richard A. Simms Collection at the Getty Research Institute—including rare preparatory drawings, working proofs, and trial prints—that sheds light on Kollwitz's creative process and reveals the depth of her social and political engagement.
"Unseen" (Dec. 17, 2019 – March 8, 2020)
Commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Museum’s collection of photographs, Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs reveals the breadth and depth of the Getty’s acquisitions through an array of its hidden treasures, none of which have been exhibited at the Getty before. Spanning the history of the medium from its early years to the present day, Unseen highlights visual associations between photographs from different times and places to encourage fresh discoveries and underscore a sense of continuity and change within the history of the medium.
Skirball Cultural Center
"Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs" (Through March 8, 2020)
For those who know him as a filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick’s early career as a photojournalist is a revelation. In 1945, the future director of classic films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) was just a teenager—but one with an uncanny photographic sensibility, who was already scouting human-interest stories for Look magazine. Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs explores a formative phase in the career of one of the 20th century’s most influential figures in cinematic history.
"El Sueño Americano / The American Dream" (Through March 8, 2020)
How we treat the most vulnerable—including migrants seeking a better life—defines our character as a nation. Drawn from the photographic series of the same name, El Sueño Americano / The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer asks us to consider how we treat migrants as a reflection of who we are and who we want to be as Americans. Responding to the dehumanizing treatment migrants face in detention, Kiefer carefully arranged and photographed objects seized and discarded by border officials—objects deemed “potentially lethal” or “non-essential” among a variety of belongings crucial for sustenance, hygiene, protection, comfort, and emotional strength.
"W|ALLS" - Annenberg Space for Photography (Through Dec. 29, 2019)
Complex, challenging, and immersive, W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine is a historical look at civilization’s relationship with barriers, both real and imagined. For centuries, across diverse civilizations, walls have been central to human history. This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls – artistic, social, political, and historical – in six sections: Delineation, Defense, Deterrent, The Divine, Decoration, and The Invisible. Featuring more than 70 artists and photographers, W|ALLS invites guests to contemplate how these structures – from the decorative to the divine – affect the human psyche and why we keep building them.
"Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence" (Through Jan. 5, 2020)
Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence is the most comprehensive retrospective in 20 years of the work of the American artist Lari Pittman. As a prolific painter and a long-revered teacher, the Los Angeles–based artist is a strong presence in both the local art community and the international sphere. From his earliest experiments with collage and decoration during his formative years at CalArts, to the iconic paintings produced in response to the AIDS crisis and culture wars of the 1990s, to his present philosophical investigations into the history-telling of textiles, Pittman’s works have remained some of the most prescient and influential of any artist since the 1980s. This exhibition will include approximately 80 paintings and 50 works on paper drawn from the Hammer’s own holdings as well as from public and private collections throughout the world. Orangerie is a stand-alone installation that provides an intimate space for viewing Pittman's works on paper.
"Hammer Projects: Max Hooper Schneider" (Through Jan. 19, 2020)
Hammer Projects is one of the museum’s most acclaimed exhibition series. Since 1999, these exhibitions have highlighted the work of contemporary artists from around the globe, often presenting new work at a pivotal moment in an artist’s development.
Artists are often likened to inventors or scientists, and in the case of Max Hooper Schneider the comparison is more than metaphorical. Schneider’s background in landscape architecture and marine biology strongly informs his artwork. Research and scientific investigation are key to his process - he explores the relationships between philosophy and nature, the personal and the political, destruction and construction, and what he calls nonhuman and human agents. Schneider will create a new immersive installation for the Hammer Projects exhibition, his first solo museum show.
"Buried by Vesuvius" (through Oct. 28, 2019)
The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades is modeled on the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum. Buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, the ancient villa was rediscovered and explored by subterranean tunnels in the 1750s and '60s and was partially re-excavated in the 1990s and early 2000s. It has yielded colorful marble and mosaic floors, frescoed walls, a large collection of bronze and marble statuary, and a unique library of more than a thousand papyrus scrolls. Now on view through October 28, Buried by Vesuvius: Treasures from the Villa dei Papiri presents many of the most spectacular finds and examines attempts to unroll and decipher the carbonized papyri.
"Assyria: Palace Art of Ancient Iraq" (Through Sept. 5, 2022)
Assyrian kings in the ninth to seventh centuries B.C. decorated their palaces with masterful relief sculptures that represent a high point of Mesopotamian art, both for their artistic quality and sophistication and for their vivid depictions of warfare, rituals, mythology, hunting, and other aspects of Assyrian court life. The importance of these ancient treasures has only increased with the recent destruction, by ISIS, of many of the reliefs that remained in Iraq. The masterworks exhibited in Assyria: Palace Art of Ancient Iraq are on special loan from the British Museum in London.
Museum of Latin American Art
"Tomás Ochoa: Antología Memento" (Through Jan. 26, 2020)
Tomás Ochoa is a South American artist whose work challenges established historical narratives. Since 2016, Ochoa has lived and worked in Colombia and studied the legacy of colonialism through economic development and political events. Antología Memento (Memento Anthology) presents 16 large panels that depict Colombia’s landscape, architecture, and peoples. Ochoa rewrites Latin American history by highlighting the events that have literally shaped the jungles and buildings of the country. The works become an illustrated and updated timeline that joins Colombia’s present reality with its hidden past.
Día de los Muertos Exhibition (Through Nov. 10, 2019)
MOLAA’s Día de los Muertos Exhibition is a juried display of art and altars open to artists residing in Southern California. The art and altars will be on display to the public in the museum's Education Gallery and are featured as a part of MOLAA’s Día de los Muertos curriculum. This year’s theme addresses our lineages and how we have been consciously and unconsciously shaped by them. It will highlight the way in which previous generations - familial, cultural, and community-oriented - shape our beliefs, habits, and customs. De Generación a Generación invites artists and audiences to connect with parts of themselves they did not know much about, creating a link between the past and the present.