Looking for a nude survey exhibition or a one-of-a-kind Marcel Duchamp show? Los Angeles is the place to be. Whether it’s sculptures that take you through decades of women’s art, photography shedding light on social justice issues or new artists creating aesthetically pleasing creations for the masses, these galleries are putting on a show nearly every day of the week. Best of all, they’re free and open to the public—unlike some of the most essential museums in L.A. With an eclectic mix of art to choose from in nearly every corner of the city, from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles, there’s something for every art connoisseur to love—and for any non-art-lover to be intrigued. Look for opening receptions or “artist talks,” which typically get scheduled at the beginning of new exhibitions, for a unique chance to mix and mingle with the artist and hear firsthand what inspired her work.
The 9 best art galleries in Los Angeles
The multimillion-dollar complex in the heart of Downtown’s Arts District presents museum-caliber exhibitions in a gallery setting. With typically three concurrent exhibitions per quarter, its stellar shows bring big names—post-war female abstractionists, Calder sculptures—alongside up-and-coming artists and local luminaries. The 24,000-square-foot also features a bookstore, garden and restaurant, Manuela.
Since 1976, the L.A. Louver gallery has mounted world-class exhibitions and represents such renowned artists as David Hockney, Ed Moses and Kenneth Price. Early shows of work by Marcel Duchamp, George Baselitz, Frank Stella and a collaboration between Samuel Beckett and Jasper Johns put Louver firmly on the art map. Now housed in a spacious modern building designed by Frederick Fisher, L.A. Louver has a timeless sense of artistic purpose—always keeping an eye on history—that is further enhanced by a varied roster of new and established talent. Its Rogue Wave program was created in 2001 to promote local artists, with group shows and solo exhibitions by emerging artists living in Los Angeles.
Situated in a 6,200-square-foot warehouse on the industrial edge of Downtown L.A., the Night Gallery is a contemporary art gallery and artist-run space that reflects the youthful sensibility of owner Davida Nemeroff, a photographer and New York transplant. It shares a building with the François Ghebaly Gallery and offers patrons a look at art in what feels like a club-like atmosphere. Collectors frequent the space, which is now situated in a growing art hub, and it also holds various programming throughout the year.
The former Red Line trolley Bergamot Station site became a cultural destination over two decades ago as it was repurposed into a rustic campus-like complex of art galleries. Now named the Though Bergamot has gone through a bit of an identity crisis as of late, some stalwart galleries remain. Inside, William Turner Gallery is the crown jewel at Bergamot. It’s become a highly respected gallery by showing some of the best emerging contemporary artists since its inception in 1991.
MuzeuMM is probably the most, well, unique gallery on our list as far as programming goes. In a creative space that opened in 2009 in West Adams, MuzeuMM offers a number of avant-garde shows, such as “Abstract Never Is,” an exhibition of both contemporary and historical abstract photography in a vibrant collaboration with the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA). Founder and director Mishelle Moross mostly focuses on contemporary art, and though the subject matter is often mature, it’s actually a family-friendly and dog-friendly venue known for throwing great parties.
Located in the historic Miracle Mile district of L.A.—which is home to LACMA and Museum Row—the Loft at Liz’s is a creative hotspot not to be missed. Hidden above Liz’s Hardware, an antique store, the gallery features both emerging and established artists and artisans, works of all mediums, including visual arts, live performances, music, dance and culinary arts. Owner Liz Gordon once lived as an “artist-in-residence” above the hardware store, but since 2004 the loft has served as a space to feature works of all mediums from artists all around the world. Exhibits change bimonthly.
Art Share L.A. has been working to keep the arts in the Arts District since 1997. After its relaunch in 2013, this creative arts center has been offering exhibitions for the public, as well as work and performance space for artists who may have been displaced by skyrocketing rents in the area. Make sure to keep up with a slate of low-cost programming, including drawing classes and music performances.
The Good Luck Gallery specializes in self-taught art—outsider, folk art, naive or visionary—created by those who prefer to work outside the lines of the traditional art world. Paige Wery, the one-time publisher of the art magazine Artillery, brings over 20 years of experience and a passion for intuitive art to the gallery as its owner and curator. Paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations that don’t require critical interpretation are on full display here, and an online shop features handmade arts and crafts, zines and literature for purchase.
Distinguished art dealer and former MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch curates shows at this namesake gallery, which elevates a bright warehouse space through museum-like presentation and some major names—Ai Weiwei inaugurated the space with a floor-covering installation.