The Los Angeles arts scene is reflective of the city itself – spread out for miles and constantly evolving. Daunting as its landscape is, however, its dynamic art scene is a testament to the city’s equally diverse cultural makeup.
Perhaps the most notable of L.A.’s acclaimed museums is the J. Paul Getty Center, located just outside Brentwood in the hills above the 405 freeway. The sweeping white travertine museum designed by architect Richard Meier features lush gardens and arguably the best view of the Los Angeles skyline. The museum’s sister site, the Getty Villa, is located just a few miles north in Pacific Palisades. The structure is modeled after a Greek villa and houses the Getty’s collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities.
The Wilshire district is home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which boasts the largest art collection in the Western United States. The 20 acre, seven building space houses noted collections of Japanese and Islamic Art, as well as a Latin American art collection which spans from early pre-Columbian pieces to those of modern masters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Most visible is Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” outdoor installation at the steps of the museum entrance, which has become not only a LACMA trademark, but also a Los Angeles landmark photo opportunity.
Downtown, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is Los Angeles’ leading museum in contemporary art with a collection of over 5,000 works dating from 1940, including examples of abstract expressionism from artists like Jackson Pollock and pop art by Roy Lichtenstein, as well as works by artists still working today.
Local universities UCLA and USC also feature on campus art museums that are free and open to the public. UCLA’s Fowler Museum is dedicated to the arts and cultures of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas and offers frequent public programs and hands on arts events for kids. USC’s Fisher Museum of Art houses a significant collection of 19th century American landscapes as well as
16th and 17th century Northern European paintings. UCLA’s Wilshire Boulevard-located Hammer Museum offers free Thursday admission and is host to frequent film screenings, lecture series and poetry readings from leading members of the music, art and literary communities.
Above all, the Angeleno art scene encourages exploration. A stroll through the many galleries of Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station or a trip to the monthly Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk will bring visitors up close with the latest in local contemporary artists’ work, many with prices that can fit even a novice collector’s budget. (Lauren Roberts)