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Hauser & Wirth
Photograph: Courtesy Hauser & Wirth/Elon Schoenholz

The 12 best art galleries in Los Angeles

And they’re all free and open to the public.

Written by
Lisa Kwon
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How lucky are we that L.A. art galleries aren’t bound to a specific hierarchy or discipline? A single trip could introduce us to an emerging artist practicing a new form of craft art and then put us face-to-face with a Mark Bradford painting for a rare showing before it moves into a museum. This flattening of the arts scene allows L.A. galleries to become a little more art-centric than their business-motivated counterparts in other areas of the world.

What’s more, the city’s inspiring and ambitious art lies inside buildings that are sandwiched in between, say, a laundromat and a bowling alley in Hollywood. Once upon a time they were film production offices in Culver City or community spaces that taught martial arts in Mid-City. Many of L.A.’s contemporary galleries end up using the past and present lives of their locations to identify themselves, making these spaces feel like our own among art world insiders and collectors.

The below museum-caliber galleries are free and open to the public—and most importantly, they want you there regardless of your status in the art market.

The 12 best art galleries in Los Angeles

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • South LA

Art + Practice was founded in 2014 as an art and social service organization in Leimert Park. Created by Mark Bradford alongside collector Eileen Harris Norton and social activist Allan DiCastro, the founders of the nonprofit spent time researching before setting their intention on how they would arrive in the historically Black neighborhood. Their free arts programs and museum-curated exhibitions—made possible by collaborating with institutions across America—are dedicated to inspiring and addressing the needs of transition-aged foster youth living in the area. Every work on site is displayed with the hope that it will activate the arts community in South L.A., which was once home to the iconic Brockman Gallery and a locus of inspiration during the height of the Black Arts Movement.

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Culver City

An art tour of Los Angeles isn’t complete without a commute to Blum & Poe, whose founders Tim Blum and Jeff Poe had a critical hand in forming the Culver City Arts District in 2003 when they moved their Santa Monica gallery to a 5,000-square-foot industrial warehouse in the new neighborhood. Once known for its specialty in abstract works, the gallery now represents over 50 artists working across different media. As tastemakers first and foremost, Blum and Poe have particularly made a name for themselves by bringing international artists into the American market. In recent years, they have staged large-scale surveys that look at global art movements, such as the Japanese Mono-ha moment, the life of Korean Dansaekhwa monochrome painters and a revisit of Brazilian modernism.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Koreatown

Young Chung’s gallery began in his apartment in Koreatown. A space for emerging artists of color, queer artists and artists with intersecting identities, he turned his living and dining rooms into hubs for colleagues to work and exhibit on the weekends. Chung eventually brought this ethos of warmth and camaraderie into the current space and created a showroom for those who would otherwise be left out of legacy or mainstream mega-galleries. At Commonwealth and Council, community matters just as much as the display. You will find that many of Chung’s network of artists—from Gala Porras-Kim to Beatriz Cortiz—will always find time for intimate solo shows with Chung, even amidst biennials, art fairs and large-scale exhibitions.

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Mid City

There is no denying the business and taste that contemporary art dealer and gallerist David Kordansky drove in the 2000s-era art life in Los Angeles. His 12,000-square-foot Mid-City space has lived many lives before its current iteration as a gallery, beginning as a martial arts studio then becoming a car dealership before it turned into Kordansky’s hub for wildly expressive and innovative artists. The sunkissed viewing room enlivens the large-scale art pieces that eventually find their way in biennials and art fairs where collectors look forward to seeing what currently excites Kordansky. The gallery also boasts storage on-site for private viewings and relationship-building moments with collectors and staff. Visit to see works from his artists like Rashid Johnson, Kathryn Andrews, Jonas Wood and so many others who have stuck with him over the years for his reputed zeal for art.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Downtown Arts District

An indelible powerhouse in Los Angeles, Hauser & Wirth is the commercial art gallery you take your out-of-state friend to prove that the city is a necessary hub for the market. Why else would the esteemed and unshakeable family business make L.A. an important part of their global chain? In any given season, the vast former flour mill curates a wide range of work across its indoor and outdoor areas, heralding the works of established greats and newcomers alike. A footprint like Hauser & Wirth’s also allows for bigger programs and conversations around sustainability and conservation, which it organizes on a regular basis. Committed to walking the walk, the gallery has a garden that offers workshops with local gardeners as well as a chicken coop with nearby beds of vegetables that are used to support the on-site restaurant, Manuela.

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Hollywood

LAXART’s nonprofit status affords it the freedom to raise more questions than to provide answers about the way we look at our societal and political issues through art. Located in West Hollywood, the alternative art space has some of the most thrilling inquiry-driven showcases of multidisciplinary art forms. Formerly a recording studio where Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix recorded albums, LAXART primarily shows sculptural works but also uses the space to organize poetry readings, jazz performances and panel discussions around moving images. It’s a gallery that befits a simmering demographic of avant-garde thinkers and researchers who are fascinated by the city’s conceptual art scene.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • South LA

Since 2014, the Mistake Room has been pioneering the alternative model for how to show the work of Latinx artists beyond displaying for the sake of representation. Founders César García-Alvarez and Glenn Kaino want to build context around Latinx art and help visitors to grasp the richness of art practice that has Latin American roots. That isn’t to say the Mistake Room hasn’t dipped into other breathtaking exhibitions; in its founding years, the independent space organized retrospectives of pivotal institutional figures like Vivian Suter and Ed Clark by showing their earliest forms, which generated conversations about such artists’ impacts and their ties to mid-tier or smaller gallery spaces.

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • West Hollywood

Founded in 1994, New Image Art is one of the oldest artist-run venues in Los Angeles. It has become a reputable space for emerging, underrepresented contemporary artists to debut in front of an audience that’s passionate about seeing new artistic possibilities. Before they became fixtures at the Hammer Museums and Blum & Poes of the world, artists like Tauba Auerbach, Umar Rashid and Barry McGee made their debuts at New Image Art. The gallery has also embraced the notion that contemporary art thrives in less conventional places; this has led to past collaborations with Ed Templeton, Cleon Peterson and Chris Johanson, all of whom have roots in skate and alternative culture.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Hollywood

In 2012, Regen Projects made a splash in the L.A. art world when it moved to Hollywood, a neighborhood that raised eyebrows among heavyweight gallerists who were situated in Culver City and westward. What’s more, founder Shaun Caley Regen turned the vacant site into a museum-caliber destination fit for large-scale exhibitions with a bold, stacked structure by local architect Michael Maltzan. Regen Projects remains one of the most influential galleries in Los Angeles to nurture international artists working in different media. With 20,000 square feet of space, it’s a no-brainer home for installation artists such as Anish Kapoor, Liz Larner and Doug Aitken. Despite whatever New York has to say about us, Hollywood was always high-culture.

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Echo Park

If the Shepard Fairey name holds no allure, surely Subliminal Projects’ vibrant, celebratory group shows will. For most of its life, the street artist-owned gallery has curated and hosted mixed-media shows with a lineup of local artists whose work is rooted in activism and community healing. On the other end of the spectrum of exhibitions, Fairey has used his connections to showcase notable blips in alternative culture, such as a show of Dee Dee Ramone’s artwork or a celebration of Black Sabbath with portraits, fan photos and other ephemera provided by the heavy metal band’s family and estate. Subliminal Projects is as flashy as it is scrappy. Bring your out-of-town friend who wants to do something equally touristy and cool.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Beverly Hills

That a top-tier Hollywood talent agency is behind one of L.A.’s most exciting galleries may raise some eyebrows, but UTA Artist Space has made earnest attempts to even the playing field for artists who have historically been shut out from white art institutions. Designed by Ai Weiwei, who has not worked on any other architectural projects in the U.S. since, the gallery consistently invites bright talent into its balmy, skylit space. Though it had its initial missteps (it first set up in Boyle Heights before community members successfully organized against neighborhood displacement from artwashing) it eventually settled into its more appropriate space in Beverly Hills and hired Arthur Lewis as their creative director to curate and orchestrate narrative-driven exhibitions. Most recently, UTA Artist Space has shown Blitz Bazuwale, Ferrari Sheppard, Vaughn Spann and other emerging, in-demand artists. Its Beverly Hills location is right where it had always needed to be, giving both collectors and the public a look at how artists of color can get their shine in a traditionally white-dominated market.

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Hollywood

Esther Kim Varet opened Various Small Fires in 2012 to fight back against the traditional gallery system that allowed for already-big Western names to get even bigger. As a gallerist and dealer, she keeps it small; representing just about 20 artists, including like Calida Rawles and Jessie Homer French, Kim Varet and her team can spend their time incubating and fostering the growth of emerging artists beyond their first five years. The shows here introduce the next-in-line, but Kim Varet and her team also use their space to launch the American artists that they represent into the Asian art market. Just three blocks away from heavyweights like Jeffrey Deitch and Regen Projects, Various Small Fires is the place to meet your new favorites before they take off and hit it big abroad.

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