The Best of Los Angeles in 2018: Arts and Culture

Experience the world premiere King Tut exhibit and more.

Nicolas Party's "Head" (2018), The Modern Institute, Aird's Lane Green Space, Glasgow. Party will be one the artists featured on the inaugural Frieze: Los Angeles art fair | Photo: The Modern Institute

From the world premiere of the blockbuster King Tut exhibition to the LA Phil centennial celebration to contemporary artists and much more, 2018 will be an unforgettable year of arts and culture in L.A.

Gilded wooden shrine (detail) from "KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" at CA Science Center | ©Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo/Italy

CA Science Center: King Tut & Space Shuttle Endeavour

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, the California Science Center presents the world premiere of King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh on March 24. The largest King Tut exhibition ever displayed internationally, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh features more than 150 authentic artifacts from King Tut’s celebrated tomb, many of which the boy king himself used in life and in death - gold jewelry, gilded wood furniture, ornate ritual objects - 60 of which have never traveled outside of Egypt. Experience these priceless treasures at this once in a lifetime exhibition before they return to Egypt forever!

In 2018, the California Science Center will move the Space Shuttle Endeavour to her permanent home in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. The exhibit operations team will assemble a set of real solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and a replica external tank (ET) to meet California seismic requirements in preparation to display Endeavour in the launch position. Once the SRBs and ET are complete, the Endeavour will be moved to the site of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, on the east end of the existing Science Center, and the orbiter will be mated with the rest of the stack. This will be the only time an operational orbiter has been mated with a launch stack anywhere except the Kennedy Space Center. After Endeavour is attached to the launch stack, it will be carefully positioned, then raised to vertical inside the new building using specialized transporters and one of the world’s largest crawler cranes.

LA Phil 100: Celebrate LA! (Sept. 30, 2018)

The world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic is celebrating its 100th season in 2018-19. On Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, all of Los Angeles is invited to join in a free, day-long festival called LA Phil 100: Celebrate LA! The extraordinary day will include CicLAvia, an open streets event with performances by professionals and amateurs from Grand Avenue in front of Walt Disney Concert Hall all the way to the Hollywood Bowl. Towards the evening, the street festival will flow into a free, massive kick-off concert at the Bowl, featuring Gustavo Dudamel conducting the LA Phil and guest artists in a celebration of all the artistic communities that make L.A. such a vibrant, creative city.

Adding color and movement to the celebration, the LA Phil will also light up Walt Disney Concert Hall with a dynamic media installation, WDCH Dreams, created by the award-winning artist Refik Anadol. Launched at the end of September 2018 in conjunction with the 2018 Gala California Soul, featuring the works of California artists from John Adams to Frank Zappa, the installation will animate the night-time façade of Walt Disney Concert Hall, announcing to the entire city that the centennial year has begun.

The Broad: Jasper Johns (Feb. 10 - May 13, 2018)

On view at The Broad Feb. 10 - May 13, Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth will feature more than 100 of the artist's most iconic and significant paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, many never before exhibited in Los Angeles. With loans from international public and private collections, including significant works from the Broad collection, the exhibition will trace the evolution of the Jasper Johns' six-decade career through a series of thematic chapters. One of the most influential and important living artists to emerge in the 20th century, and one of America’s great living artists, Johns has been seminal to the Broad collection. His work emerged with and has influenced numerous other collection artists represented in depth, including Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and Sherrie Levine.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Born and raised in Nigeria and now living in Los Angeles, Njideka Akunyili Crosby is the second artist to create an outdoor mural designed specifically to wrap the exterior of MOCA Grand Avenue. On view January 2018, her work transforms the museum itself into a canvas for explorations of scale, texture, pattern, intimacy and a multiplicity of perspectives.

On view March 4 - Sept. 3, Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin brings together the works of three of the 20th century’s most influential photographers of modern life: Brassaï (Gyula Halász), Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin. Featuring one hundred works by the three artists, the exhibition is structured around MOCA’s nearly comprehensive collection of photographs that appear in three legendary photobooks: Brassaï’s "The Secret Paris of the '30s" (1976), the posthumous "Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph" (1972), and Goldin’s "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" (1986).

Lauren Halsey: we still here, there is a site-specific installation work created at MOCA Grand Avenue. This spring, the L.A.–based artist will take up residence at the museum, where she will build and regularly change an immersive space resembling a fantastical system of caves that viewers are invited to linger in and explore. This environment will serve as a visionary archive reflecting the diversity of everyday Black cultural experiences in South L.A., Halsey’s home since childhood.

LA Opera

Frasier does LA Opera! Emmy Award winning actor Kelsey Grammer stars in Leonard Bernstein's round-the-world romp, Candide (Jan 27- Feb 18). Freewheeling, funny, satirical and soaring, Candide takes the audience on a whirlwind tour of human folly and foolishness.

In a modern take on a timeless story, Orpheus & Eurydice (March 10-25) is a breathtaking new production by living legend John Neumeier that showcases the virtuoso dancers of the Joffrey Ballet. Shattered from the sudden death of his beloved Eurydice, Orpheus descends into the underworld in a courageous effort to reunite with his muse. 

It’s more than just a cornerstone of opera repertoire; it’s also one of the most heartfelt of all stage works. Rigoletto (May 12 - June 3) is the unforgettable tale of a father’s rage, a daughter’s shame and a self-centered ruler who thinks he can get away with anything.

Winner of an Emmy, two Grammy Awards and a record-setting six Tony Awards, Audra McDonald returns to LA Opera on May 20 in a can't-miss concert appearance with the LA Opera Orchestra. The Broadway legend brings her luminous soprano voice to an intimate evening of favorite show tunes, classic songs and original pieces written especially for her.

On June 22 and 24, The Broad Stage in Santa Monica transforms into two different haunted houses in Scare Pair, a double bill of operas by Gordon Getty. Writer Edgar Allan Poe takes the stage himself as the main character of Usher House, an unsettling chiller that has all the classic elements of Gothic horror. The Canterville Ghost puts a deft comic spin on Oscar Wilde's witty tale, in which the 300-year-old ghost of an English nobleman fails to impress his newest audience, a family of Americans who simply refuse to be frightened.

Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA)

The ancient city of Teotihuacan flourished in central Mexico in the first millennium CE. This multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan city was the largest urban center in the Americas in its day. On view at LACMA March 25 – July 15, City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan presents recent findings from Mexican national and international archaeological projects excavating at Teotihuacan's three main pyramids—the Sun, Moon, and the Feathered Serpent—and major residential compounds. These discoveries have fundamentally changed our understanding of the city’s history.

In 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life (April 15 – July 29), David Hockney offers a vibrant and intimate view of people with whom he has developed relationships over the past 50 years. The majority of the portraits were painted in Hockney’s Los Angeles studio, all from life and over a period of two or three days, which the artist has described as “a 20-hour exposure.” None of Hockney’s portraits are commissioned; for this series he invited family, members of his staff, and close friends to sit for him. LACMA will host the only U.S. presentation of this traveling exhibition, which originated at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

On view May 6 – Sept. 9, In the Fields of Empty Days explores the continuous and inescapable presence of the past in Iranian society. This notion is revealed in art and literature in which ancient kings and heroes are used in later contexts as paradigms of virtue or as objects of derision, while long-gone Shi‘a saints are evoked as champions of the poor and the oppressed.

Displaying exquisite designs, technical virtuosity, and sumptuous color, chiaroscuro woodcuts are among the most striking prints of the Renaissance. The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy (June 3 – Sept. 16) explores the materials and means of its production, offering a fresh perspective on the remarkable art of the chiaroscuro woodcut.

1955 Porsche Continental Cabriolet | Photo courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum


In collaboration with Porsche Cars North America, the Petersen Automotive Museum will host one of the most comprehensive displays of the marque outside of Stuttgart. Opening Feb. 3, The Porsche Effect will focus on the impact of the iconic German brand from a cultural and design perspective, offering a selection of sports and race cars along with renderings, engines and billboards. From humble beginnings in a Gmünd sawmill, to Stuttgart to Le Mans, Porsche has become an international icon. To capture this evolution, Petersen curators selected models from early in the brand’s history through its modern-day sports cars, showcasing the vehicles as kinetic art. Some of the vehicles include a 911 RS from 1973, an early Porsche 901, the precursor of the 911 and a 1955 Porsche Continental Cabriolet - the name was used in the United States for 1955 only, making it especially rare. Staged in the Mullin Grand Salon, the exhibit will be on view through Jan. 27, 2019.

Autry Museum of the American West

The Autry’s Masters of the American West Art Exhibition and Sale (Feb. 10 – March 25) is considered the country’s premier Western art show. Each year, 70 nationally recognized, contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences inspire.

Opening May 12 at the Autry, Rick Bartow: Things You Know but Cannot Explain represents the artist’s first major retrospective and a contribution to the substantial growing body of scholarship on contemporary Native artists. Bartow (Wiyot) established his art career in the 1980s following service in Vietnam and a period of recovery from PTSD and alcoholism. His work consists of large-scale paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures that often feature haunting combinations of animal and human forms, and are often both deeply personal and culturally relevant.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564), "Study of a Mourning Woman" ca. 1500-05. Pen and brown ink, heightened with white 26 x 16.5 cm. | Photo courtesy of Getty Center

Getty Center

The Getty Center recently made one of the most spectacular acquisitions in its history, purchasing a collection of 16 drawings from a private collector. The group features exceptional sheets by many of the most celebrated draftsmen in European art history, including Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto, Domenico Tiepolo, Goya and Degas. On view from Jan. 17 to April 22, Michelangelo to Degas: Major New Acquisitions presents the drawings together with an exquisite painting by Antoine Watteau, La Surprise, acquired from the same celebrated collection.

A Queen's Treasure from Versailles (Jan. 23, 2018 - Jan. 6, 2019) brings to the Getty precious examples of Japanese lacquer from the personal collection of the French queen Marie-Antoinette (1755–1793). Her collection of small lacquer boxes was one of the finest assembled in Europe, and she considered them to be among her most cherished possessions.

One of the most intriguing series in Rembrandt's oeuvre comprises his drawings made in the style of artists serving the Mughal court in India. Juxtaposing Rembrandt's depictions of Mughal rulers and courtiers with Indian paintings and drawings of similar compositions, Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India (March 13 - June 24) reveals how contact with Mughal art inspired Rembrandt to draw in an entirely different, refined style prompted by his curiosity for a foreign culture.

Egypt, the most ancient of the Mediterranean civilizations, held a great fascination for the Greeks and Romans. Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World (March 27 - Sept. 9) is a major international loan exhibition that explores the artistic interplay between these cultures from the Bronze Age to Roman times (2000 BC–AD 300).

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911–2011 (June 26 - Oct. 21) surveys the rich and varied history of modern fashion photography, exploring the ways in which photographers whose careers have been closely associated with the industry have shaped evolving notions of style and beauty. Drawn from the Getty's permanent collection and supplemented by loans from private and public sources, Icons of Style features more than 200 photographs presented alongside a selection of costumes, illustrations, magazine covers, videos, and advertisements.

"Notorious RBG" | Photo courtesy of Skirball Cultural Center

Skirball Cultural Center: Leonard Bernstein at 100 & Notorious RBG

The Skirball Cultural Center presents Leonard Bernstein at 100 (April 26–Sept. 2), a celebration of the life and work of Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990), the great American composer and conductor who dedicated his life to making classical music a vibrant part of American culture. Organized by the GRAMMY Museum and curated by its director and renowned music historian, Robert Santelli, Leonard Bernstein at 100 is the official exhibition of the Bernstein centennial celebrations, which will include events at numerous performing arts venues across the country. Spanning a half-century of activity by the “Renaissance man of American music,” the exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective of Bernstein’s life and career ever staged in a museum setting. 

Based upon the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an original exhibition created in partnership with the book’s co-authors: journalist Irin Carmon, a national reporter at MSNBC, and attorney Shana Knizhnik, who founded the popular Tumblr that earned Ginsburg Internet fame (and amused the Justice herself). Like the book, the exhibition will offer a visually rich, entertaining, yet rigorous look at the Justice’s life and career. Through archival photographs and documents, contemporary art, media, and interactives, the exhibition will present a unique take on the American legal system and civil rights movements through the lens of Ginsburg’s personal experiences and public service. Notorious RBG opens at the Skirball in October 2018.

Hammer Museum: Ai Weiwei, Al Gore

Screening at the Hammer Museum on Thursday, Jan. 4, Human Flow is an epic film by renowned artist Ai Weiwei. This detailed and heartbreaking exploration of the global refugee crisis was captured over the course of a year in 23 countries, and follows a chain of urgent stories that stretches through Afghanistan, Greece, Iraq, Kenya, Mexico, Turkey, and beyond. From teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbed-wire borders, Human Flow witnesses its subjects’ desperate search for safety, shelter, and justice. A Q&A with Ai Weiwei follows the screening.

On Sunday, Jan. 7, former Vice President Al Gore will participate in a Q&A following the screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change to the fore of pop culture, Gore continues his fight to build a global network of advocates and influence international policy. This 2017 documentary follows Gore’s pursuit to overcome the perils of climate change through collective ingenuity and passion.

Upcoming exhibitions and installations include Molly Lowe (Jan. 20 - May 6), Lawrence Abu Hamdan (Jan. 20 - May 20), Unspeakable: Atlas, Kruger, Walker (Jan. 20 - May 13), and Stories of Almost Everyone (Jan. 20 - May 6).

GETTY VILLA (April 18, 2018)

Opening April 18, the Getty Villa will debut newly reinstalled galleries for its antiquities collection. Previously displayed thematically, the new presentation will be a chronological arrangement that follows the historical development of classical art from the Neolithic Period through the late Roman Empire (ca. 6,000 BC – A.D. 600). With almost 3,000 square feet more gallery space and redesigned display cases, the new installation will also showcase the most important objects in the collection, such as the Statue of a Victorious Youth, which will now be viewed alongside other works of art of similar date and style. A new gallery dedicated to the “Classical World in Context” will feature important long-term loans from major international museums of works of art representing the cultures that engaged with ancient Greece and Rome.

To mark the opening of the newly reinstalled Getty Villa, Plato in L.A.: Contemporary Artists’ Visions will feature some of today’s most celebrated artists, Paul Chan, Rachel Harrison, Huang Yong Ping, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Whitney McVeigh, Raymond Pettibon, Adrian Piper, and Michelangelo Pistoletto, and explore the many ways in which they have been inspired by Plato’s writings. 

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

On view at The Huntington Library from June 16 to October 1, Spirit and Essence, Line and Form showcases approximately 25 works on paper by Henry Moore (1898-1986) culled from the recent gift of some 330 works of Moore’s graphic art from the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation. The most prominent British sculptor of the 20th century, Moore was also a prolific graphic artist, producing drawings as well as hundreds of prints. His sculptor’s interest in the interrelationship of shape and mass, and in the connections and intersections among different forms, translates eloquently into his graphic work. These intricate, often delicate objects explore the same universal themes found in Moore’s sculpture – the roots of creation, the body, life, and death. Moore’s works, both sculptural and graphic, reflect his reactions to the changing political and social climate of his times, as well as the preoccupations of his own life, from the threat of war and nuclear annihilation to the birth of his child.

Mongolian armored warrior and horse from "Genghis Khan" | Photo courtesy of Reagan Library

Reagan Library: Genghis Khan

What do pants, the pony express, cannons, paper money, skis, violins, baklava and “hooray!” have in common? Answer: Genghis Khan introduced them all to the West. Not Genghis the brutal barbarian of Western history books, but Genghis the great civilizer, law-maker, and democratizer, whose empire brought each of these innovations to the West. Opening January 16, the most comprehensive exhibition of Genghis Khan and his treasures invades the Reagan Library for its only Southern California stop on an international tour that has drawn more than a million visitors.

As the exhibit strikingly portrays, Genghis’s reputation as the greatest conqueror is well-deserved – he dominated three times more land in his lifetime than either Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, a conquest attested to by the formidable array of swords, bows, arrows, saddles and armor included on display in Genghis Khan. In fact, the historic exhibition showcases hundreds of artifacts from Genghis’s 13th century Empire, the largest such collection ever to tour.

Visitors will experience the exhibition through the eyes of a Mongolian resident, receiving a civilian identity card at the beginning of their journey. From warrior to spy to princess, follow this character’s life throughout the rise of the great Mongol Empire.

Photo courtesy of Museum of Latin American Art

MOLAA: Representational Acts (Jan. 20, 2018)

Taking place at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) on Saturday, Jan. 20, Representational Acts is presented as part of the Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art LA/LA. The performances are linked thematically to a section in MOLAA’s PST: LA/LA exhibition, Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago. Representational Acts features performance pieces by Carlos Martiel (Cuba), Andil Gosine (Trinidad) and Jimmy Robert (Guadeloupe). Each artist represents a different linguistic region of the Caribbean. Their works show how representation is an active process rather than a passive translation of the visible world. A reception with the artists will follow the performances. Doors open at 5:30pm and performances begin at 6pm. Space is limited and reservations are recommended.