Los Angeles City With Art

The Getty

The Getty

There are some cities in the world that just declare their artistic nature for all to see and Los Angeles is one of those cities. The sprawling city is home to several museums including the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). There are museums in satellite regions of LA worth visiting as well, including San Marino’s Huntington Library, Art Collection and Gardens and Malibu’s branch of the Getty called The Getty Villa which is a structure created to resemble a first century Roman villa located in Herculaneum, Italy.

While traditionally viewed as the home of Tinsel Town, or Hollywood, we often tend to view Los Angeles first as home to the U.S. media empire. This is not untrue, but the city surprises us by also being home to so many museums with such extensive programs of art. And the museums house several kinds of art including sculpture and landscaping. Really it seems impossible to visit the Getty in less than a day. In fact, it nearly requires two or three trips to see everything on the campus. And it’s the same with the Huntington Library, particularly if you are fond of old books, letters, as well as gardens and art.

Huntington Library

Huntington Library

History is strongly represented by the Getty, the Huntington and The Getty Villa. At the Huntington Library out in nearby San Marino, history is more immediate as visitors are encouraged to peruse letters, paintings and architecture from a time when the southwest United States was mostly orchard fields and Georgian mansions. The J. Paul Getty Museum located in the hills that divide Los Angeles from San Fernando Valley covers a thorough and diverse range of historical periods across the world. It is a large and fantastic complex of buildings that celebrate several periods of ancient and more modern art, though truly modern art à la Andy Warhol is to be found at MOCA closer to downtown. Still further to the west in Malibu, The Getty Villa was a fantastic attempt at recreating an ancient, Hellenistic residence with garden courtyard, the Villa dei Papiri, and it houses the several historical relics relating to that period and area of the world.

But LACMA can’t be excluded from this consideration, either. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, located on iconic Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of the media district of LA, prides itself on its international character. A visit here would reveal several buildings with considerable chambers filled with Asian art, Latin American art, and Islamic art, of which LACMA hosts one of the most significant collections in the world. The pavilion for Japanese Art at LACMA is a personal favorite and there you will not just find paintings and silk screens, but a whole collection of hundreds of miniature netsuke, or tiny carvings, which were a part of everyday life for centuries in Japan.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) always seems to have Andy Warhol exhibitions whenever I visit like the iconic flag of the master flagship. This museum was established in 1979 and its mission is to be the defining museum of contemporary art. A walk through the exhibitions at MOCA is immediately urban and exciting. You can be sure that if you want the pulse beat on what is happening right now, that MOCA provides leadership by fostering and presenting new work, emerging media, and original ideas behind modern art.

If you find yourself visiting Los Angeles for business or pleasure, you will see art in the city whether you visit these establishments or not. Los Angeles is a city of dreamers and its inhabitants largely come there to make art in one form or another whether that is the silver screen, cutting recording deals, voice acting, theater work or painting the sides of the brick stone buildings downtown. But if you can take a moment or two to slip inside one of these museums, it grounds the visitor into an appreciation of art which lasts through the ages even as it changes form by the decade. The cool, hushed exhibitions within the museums are especially where the writers go to renew their well of inspiration and you will not be disappointed.