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, consult our monthly guide to the best museum exhibits in L.A.
Closes January 25
Disembodiment highlights recent work from six young, black artists: Jarvis Boyland, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Jerrell Gibbs, Marcus Jahmal, Clotilde Jiménez, and Vaughn Spann. Curator Marianne Ibrahim Lenhardt says the pieces “upend established narratives around race and identity.”
Closes May 17
Another collaboration between LACMA and New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art, this is the first-ever comprehensive retrospective of the career of Julie Mehretu. The 49-year-old, Ethiopian-born artist makes work that grapples with colonialism, history, capitalism, displacement, and war. The show includes over 70 works, all made since 1996.
Opens December 14
New York City gallery Fort Gansevoort opens a new location in L.A. with his show by New York-based artist and author Christopher Myers. The pieces on display are all textile and sculptural works, many of them inspired by a 15 year project that found Myers visiting juvenile detention facilities around the country to meet with incarcerated young people.
Closes January 18
Curated by Tokyo gallerist Shinji Nanzuka, Tokyo Pop Underground examines Japan’s contemporary art and pop culture underground from the 1960s to today. Some of the pieces were not originally intended as fine art, but were designed objects from everyday and commercial life which caught Nanzuka’s curatorial eye. Another theme in the show is artists who were little-recognized in Japan in previous decades because their work was deemed too radical or anti-conformity for their time.
Ed & Nancy Kienholz: The Merry-Go-World or Begat by Chance and the Wonder Horse Trigger — L.A. Louver
Closes January 18
In 1992, L.A. Louver gallery staged “The Merry-Go-World,” a large installation by artists Ed and Nancy Kienholz. The ambitious, interactive structure, which took the pair four years to construct, has since been displayed at galleries around the world–but has never returned to Los Angeles until now. Designed to inspire compassion and an openness to the suffering of strangers, viewers spin a carnival wheel to discover which of eight very different “lives” they will experience, forcing one to consider the privileges and suffering a person is given by the randomness of their birth.
Closes February 16
Artist Shirin Neshat gets her largest museum exhibition to date, with this show created by the Broad. Spend time with over 230 photographs and eight video installations from Neshat’s three-decade career. Much of the work is informed by Neshat’s Iranian heritage, and perspective as a person living outside Iran, closely watching the Green Movement, Arab Spring, 9/11, and other global political events.
Closes March 1, 2020
Cross Colours was an emerging brand from a pair of Black L.A. designers when Will Smith started sporting their clothes on screen in early episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Soon the brand, always informed by Afrocentrism and progressive politics, became a national sensation. This exhibition dives in on 30 years of the brand, from the vintage textiles that informed the designs, to how the company used fashion as a platform to address social justice.
Closes March 15, 2020
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.
Closes December 14
Known for his surreal, swirling cartoon figures, SoCal legend Kenny Scharf takes on the still life in a new group of paintings on display at Honor Fraser. Outside the gallery, Scharf is constructing a garland built from plastic detritus that will wrap around the building as a statement about consumption.
Closes December 21
Los Angeles-based artist Alex Hubbard opens his first solo show in his home city since 2012 this month. The show will include new multimedia painting world, which incorporate nontraditional and industrial materials like resin, fiberglass, and auto body paint, and two video installations combining handmade projectors streaming animation.
Closes December 31
Photographer Ryan Schude, who has shot images for Los Angeles, mounts a solo exhibition at bG Gallery in Santa Monica. He’s best-known for large images that feature numerous models in elaborate scenes, described as “mingling surrealism and Americana with a touch of contemporary humor.”
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.