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.
One Day at a Time: Kahlil Joseph’s Fly Paper – MOCA Pacific Design Center
November 17, 2018 to February 24, 2019
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.
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 before.
Closes November 30, 2020
Barbara Kruger first installed this massive mural on this site (then known as MOCA at the “Temporary” Contemporary) in 1990, commissioned by the museum for an exhibition, A Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation, which included Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, Mike Kelley, and other essential artists of that time. MOCA brought back the piece, with its poignant questions about patriotism and power, ahead of the midterm elections and plans to leave it up on the building’s south wall through the 2020 campaign.
Closes January 5
One of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s three concurrent L.A. shows, this exhibition is also marks the first at the new Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles gallery space. Described as a “museum-scale exhibition” of the artist’s multimedia work, the show includes the impressive Stools, an installation of 5,929 wooden stools from China’s Ming and Qing Dynasty periods that covers 72 square feet of gallery floor.
Alex “Defer” Kizu: Skyroom – L.A. Louver
Closes January 5 (Extended)
L.A. street artist Alex Kizu–who works under the name Defer–has become something of a fixture in local galleries lately, appearing in Beyond the Streets; last year’s Gajin Fujita-curated Roll Call show, and Don’t Believe the Hype, a recent show focusing on Chinese Americans in hip-hop culture. For this solo show, he will be creating a massive, intricate mural on an open-topped outdoor “skyroom” structure.
Closes January 6
Egyptian-born, Los Angeles-based artist Sherin Guirguis took inspiration for the works presented in Of Thorns and Love from the early 20th Century Egyptian poet and activist Doria Shafik, a campaigner for women’s rights and feminist values. Each piece represents a significant place, moment, or poem from Shafik’s life and important legacy.
Closes January 6
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, this touring exhibition is the most complete collection of artifacts ever shown outside of Egypt. While the run lasts over six months, don’t wait until the last minute to check it out—tickets for this blockbuster show have been selling out weeks in advance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Closes December 1
The final of Ai’s trilogy of shows is a selection of recent sculpture works, many of them in marble. The new UTA Artist Space itself is also something of a Ai work, as he was involved in the design of the renovated Beverly Hills warehouse–his only architecture project ever in the United States. Cao/Humanity features a collaborative performance piece in which visitors are encourages to record their own voice reading from Ai’s book about the current global migration and refugee crisis, Humanity, and then share those recordings online.
Closes December 22
When Minimalist artist Marcia Hafif died in April at the age of 88, she left behind a prolific collection of work, including photography, drawing, and architectural models, but she is best known for her experimental paintings. Over 100 pieces by the Pomona-born artist are shown in this exhibit, including a new site-specific mural work that was among the artist’s final projects.