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

Your guide to new openings, must-sees, and what you need to catch while you can

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

Disruptors – Petersen Automotive Museum

Closes March 15

Designers Rem D. Koolhaas and Joey Ruiter turn their innovative, minimalist sensibilities to cars, skateboards, and other objects in this just-opened exhibit. How each of these A-list designers reshapes everyday functional items to be visually and technologically sophisticated is sure to provoke some thoughts.

Russell Young: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Art Angels Gallery

Closing date to be announced

The title of Russell Young’s exhibit may give you a hint of where he found inspiration for the works on display. The selections of large-scale oil paintings nod to the Shakespeare play; he also cites Yves Klein and Sigur Ros as touchstones. Young’s pieces are a favorite among the celeb set and hang in the private collections of Kanye West, Drake, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Ongoing Exhibits

Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich – Skirball Cultural Center

Closes September 1

Influential fashion designer Rudi Gernreich created eye-popping designs with bold color and patterns that challenged mid-20th century gender stereotypes–pantsuits and flat shoes for women, caftans for everyone, thongs and “monokinis.” Gernreich himself fled the Nazis in 1938 to relocate to Los Angeles; once here he became one of the founding members of the trailblazing gay rights advocacy group the Mattachine Society.

Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite – Skirball Cultural Center

Closes September 1

Organized by the Aperture Foundation, this exhibit is the first major solo show dedicated to the work of Kwame Brathwaite, who documented the “second Harlem Renaissance” of the 1960s. He challenged the era’s Eurocentric beauty ideals by showing glamorous, powerful images of black fashion models, jazz luminaries, artists, and others.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, 1963 – 1983 – The Broad

Closes September 1

Highlighting more than 60 different artists, this exhibition focuses on the vital contributions of Black creators in American art. The show highlights the connections between political and social movements including the Civil Rights struggle and Black Power and the artwork of the era, as well as how Black artists engaged with Minimalism, abstraction, and other genres. Among the artists in the show are Noah Purifoy, Faith Ringgold, Charles White, Alma Thomas, and Romare Bearden.

Ernie Barnes: A Retrospective – California African American Museum

Closes September 8

Ernie Barnes is known as the painter of some of the most iconic images of 20th century black American life; his 1976 piece “The Sugar Shack” was used as the cover art of a Marvin Gaye record and appeared on-screen in the sitcom Good Times. An athlete himself–he played in the NFL for four seasons–he was the official artist of the 1984 Olympics in L.A. This retrospective show collects work from throughout his multi-decade career

Frank Stella: Selections from the Permanent Collection – LACMA

Closes September 15

A heavyweight of modern art, Frank Stella is best known for his paintings and sculptures that bridge Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. The works included in this exhibition include a number of pieces held in LACMA’s permanent collection which have been in storage, not seen by the public for over 30 years.

Donna Huanca: Obsidian Ladder – Marciano Art Foundation

Closes December 1

This site-specific installation in the Marciano’s 13,000-square-foot Theater Gallery marks the first significant solo exhibition in the U.S. for Donna Huanca. Huanca specializes in using materials taken from nature–clay, oil, turmeric, sand–to create what she calls “skin paintings.” The show incorporates the senses of sight, smell, and hearing, and uses both fixed works and performance.

Coyote Leaves the Res: The Art of Harry Fonseca – The Autry Museum

Closes January 5, 2020

Harry Fonseca was an influential force in shaping the look of contemporary Native American art. This collection of work focuses on the character of Coyote, the shape-shifting trickster of lore, depicted by Fonseca in leather and sneakers, amid colorful, graphic designs.

Closing Soon

Eleanor Antin: Time’s Arrow – LACMA

Closes July 28

California-based artist Eleanor Antin has been a leading figure in performance art and conception art for decades. Time’s Arrow combines the documentation of a 37-day performance she staged in 1972 with images of her revising the same project 45 years later, in 2017, and extending the project to 100 days, during which she photographed her own body some 500 times, commenting on time, aging, and vulnerability.

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon: Relax Into the Invisible – LAXART

Closes August 10

Barbara Stauffacher was born in 1928 and trained as a dancer before moving on to visual art. In the ’50s, she became one of the first women to launch her own graphic design firm, and the in ’60s, would develop the “supergraphics” for which she would become best known. Now 91 years old, she continues to create new work, primarily collage and drawings. This show explores how her modernist sensibilities and California cool vibes have mixed over the decades, across a variety of media.

Guillermo Kuitca – Hauser & Wirth

Closes August 11

Argentine painter Guillermo Kuitca stages his first-ever L.A. show, featuring two new series. “The Family Idiot” takes cues from the Jean-Paul Sartre work of the same name; “Missing Pages” is an 18-part series of paintings inspired by the traditional printing process used to publish books.

RELATED: These L.A. Artists Are Bringing Queer Perspectives Into Focus

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