The Best Exhibits at Museums and Galleries in L.A. in January

Your guide to new openings, must-sees, and what you need to catch while you can
samuel jablon lowell ryan projects
“Ravenous Night,” Samuel Jablon, 2018

Courtesy of Lowell Ryan Projects

We’re blessed with an abundance of museums and art galleries here in L.A., but with so many shows rotating in and out at any given time, it can be hard to keep up. Nobody wants to be the person who only finds out about a cool exhibit when it’s closing down and heading out of town. To help you make the most of your gallery-going, we’ve picked a selection of the best exhibits at museums and galleries around town.

New Openings

Mind, Body, Soul – Lowell Ryan Projects

Opens January 12

This exhibition featuring Samuel Jablon, Spencer Lewis, and Maysha Mohamedi marks the opening of new West Adams gallery Lowell Ryan Projects. The three artists are all local to L.A., and all make abstract paintings, but go in different directions from there. Mohamedi’s painting is informed by Farsi calligraphy, but often made with tar collected from California beaches, while Lewis works with jute, cardboard, and spray paint to make sculptural pieces with intuitive movement, and Jablon likens his “poem painting” practice to the compositions of John Cage.

Noa Yekutieli: Pedestal – Track 16 Gallery

Opens January 12

Noa Yekutieli’s site-specific installation–made of string, paper cuts, building materials, and rocks–speaks to how we create narratives and historical meaning out of the rubble of past events. Paper cuts in the shapes of Ancient Greek sculptures surround the gallery, rising from broken materials on the floor, and visitors must walk only on a limited, intentional path through the space.

Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler: Flora – LACMA

Opens January 20

Flora Mayo carried on an affair with the acclaimed Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti in 1920s Paris. The American woman was an artist herself, but her story and art was largely destroyed and lost to history. Hubbard and Birchler were inspired by learning about her, and created this video work that mixes documentary, reenactment, and storytelling, and is accompanied by the duo’s reconstruction of a lost Mayo sculpture.

Ongoing Exhibits

The Renaissance Nude – Getty Center

Closes January 27

This exhibition includes over 100 works from Renaissance masters, including Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and others, showing the evolution of the nude human body as a subject matter for artistic exploration. Works created during this era changed the course of Western art as we know it by using new techniques and styles to show more lifelike, vibrant, and sensual figures than ever depicted

Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle – Marciano Art Foundation

Closes March 3

The first of four Ai Weiwei exhibitions opening in September and October in Los Angeles, the Marciano Art Foundation will be showing series of large-scale sculptures by the artist. Among the works on display will be a brand new piece about the global refugee crisis, “Life Cycle,” which has never been shown anywhere before.

The Propeller Group – Luckman Fine Arts Complex

Closing March 9

The Propeller Group is a collective of contemporary artists in Vietnam who create works incorporating film, photography, sculpture, and installations, and walk the line between fine art and commercial content production. None of the pieces included in this show have ever been displayed in Los Angeles before.

Sara Berman’s Closet – Skirball Cultural Center

Closes March 10

Artists Maria Kalman and Alex Kalman have created this installation inspired by their grandmother, Sara Berman, who died in 2004. At age 60, Berman ended her 38-year marriage, packed up her life in Tel Aviv and moved to New York City, and decided to wear only white, storing all her belongings in one small, perfectly organized closet. Her grandchildren saved the contents as they were at the time of her death and stage them here as an exploration of identity, freedom, family, and memory.

MONUMENTality – Getty Center

Closes April 21

What does it mean to be a monument? This exhibition explores the idea of how humans have created physical markers of history through the centuries. Beyond the structures themselves, the exhibit also investigates how the creation of monuments reflects belief systems, power structures, and sometimes contradictory cultural messaging.


West of Modernism: California Graphic Design, 1975 to 1995 – LACMA

Closes April 21

See how graphic design evolved as the century ended in this show, a collaboration between LACMA’s Decorative Arts and Design department and Prints and Drawings department. The idea is to see graphic design both as work in itself, and in the context of political and artistic movements of the time.

Closing Soon

B. Wurtz: This Has No Name – Institute of Contemporary Art L.A.

Closes February 3

Sculptor B. Wurtz has been working for over 40 years, but this is actually the New York-based artist’s first ever solo museum show. Described as “poetic and whimsical,” these assemblage sculptures and paintings often take everyday objects–socks, twist-ties, plastic fruit baskets–and incorporate them into intriguing, intimate works.

Rauschenberg: In and About L.A. – LACMA

Closes February 10

As the name implies, all the pieces in this Robert Rauschenberg solo show were made in and about Los Angeles, during the formative periods of his life he spent here. He first arrived in California when he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in 1944, and a visit to L.A. during that time inspired him to dedicate his life to art. During the 1960s and ’70s he worked with local print-making studios Gemini G.E.L. and Styria Studio, and he was an early participant in LACMA’s own Art and Technology Program, collaborating with scientists and engineers of the era.

One Day at a Time: Kahlil Joseph’s Fly Paper – MOCA Pacific Design Center

Closes February 24

Kahlil Joseph has created a body of iconic works that blur the line between music video, cinema, and video art–not least among them Beyoncé’s Lemonade “visual album” and m.A.A.d., a short film that accompanied Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city, which was debuted with an installation at MOCA. Joseph’s Fly Paper, is a 23-minute tribute to black life in Harlem, New York, featuring musical cameos by Lauryn Hill, Thundercat, and Flying Lotus.

A Journey That Wasn’t – The Broad

Closes February 

At first glance, A Journey That Wasn’t seems like it covers a lot of ground, with a mix of eras, styles, media, and approaches all in one show. What ties it all together is a theme: Every artwork finds the artist thinking about time, and how time passing impacts our lives. Works on display in this new show are drawn entirely from The Broad’s deep and diverse permanent collection, with several never been displayed in L.A. before.


RELATED: In a Series of Photos, Young L.A. Artists Capture the Experience of Growing Up

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