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 LA. 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.
Best art galleries in Los Angeles
The new multimillion-dollar complex in the heart of the iconic Downtown Los Angeles Arts District is only a month old, but its first exhibition is 70 years in the making. “Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women” is comprised of nearly 100 works made by 34 female artists, tracing the way women have changed sculpture art in the postwar period. For example, the knotting, weaving, piling and slumping of earlier eras have expanded into forest-like installations redolent of contemporary urban experience. The exhibition is on display until September 4. The 24,000-square-foot gallery-meets-museum also features a bookstore and restaurant, and a public garden will open later this year.
Photograph: Courtesy Hauser & Wirth
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. Rogue Wave 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 in the heart of Downtown LA, 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Night Gallery
Ever since developer Wayne Blank conceived of an artistic use for the former Red Line trolley Bergamot Station site to be used as an arts center 20 years ago, the rustic campus-like complex has become a cultural destination that draws 600,000 visitors each year. It has managed to retained its industrial and rustic look since holding its official opening on September 17, 1994. 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.
Photograph: Courtesy William Turner Gallery
This brand-new contemporary art gallery celebrated its grand opening on April 9, 2016. The space has special meaning for the artists who have been in Venice for decades but were recently pushed out by rising rents. Featuring the work of well-known artists Alberto Bevacqua, his son Ara, and John Grauman, it’s a way to celebrate their work from 334 Sunset Ave, where the Bevacquas shared a studio that fellow Venice artists also used, including Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis and May Ray. The new art gallery has various exhibits and events planned throughout the year.
Photograph: Courtesy Alberto Bevacqua Studio
MuzeuMM is probably the most, well, unique gallery on our list as far as programming goes. In a creative space that opened in 2009 next to Tivetsky Art Restoration in the West Adams district of LA, MuzeuMM offers a number of avant-garde shows, such as its recent “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.
Photograph: Courtesy MuzeuMM
Located in the historic Miracle Mile district of LA—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 bi-monthly.
Photograph: Courtesy Eric Minh Swenson
Art Share LA has been working to keep the arts in LA's 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. For the musically inclined, you can join or enjoy the sounds from the free “Tear It Down” jazz jam session every second Thursday at 8pm, which means you can bring your instruments, your tunes and “whatever you’ve been working on lately.”
Photograph: Courtesy Ben McCambridge
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 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.
Photograph: Courtesy the Good Luck Gallery