Los Angeles: art beyond cinema | Words

When we think of a trip to Los Angeles, the big Hollywood sign, the iconic movie studios or the walk of fame come to mind; but this city offers a true world related to art to discover and enjoy.

A visit to this city does not only mean walking along its beaches or going in search of celebrity mansions. These activities can be really fun, but Los Angeles is, along with San Francisco, the cultural center of the west coast of the United States and offers, in quantity and variety, places related to art where you can fully immerse yourself.

When I refer to diversity, I think that there is something for all tastes. Whether you love classic art from ancient Greece or the more modern manifestations of street art galore. From large museums to gardens. From Art Deco buildings like the iconic Griffith Observatory to the contemporary façade of The Broad.

Art and culture lovers: If you're planning an upcoming trip to Los Angeles, keep this list in mind to include some must-see spots amidst all the celebrities and days in the sun.

The complex of buildings of the Museum of Art, LACMA

Without a doubt, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LAMCA) is a must-see in this city, as well as the most important on the coast west.

The museum opened its doors in March 1965 with great grandeur after decades of planning. Originally designed in a Modern Classicist style, it consisted of three pavilions: the Ahmanson Art Gallery, which housed the permanent collections; the Lytton Gallery, for temporary exhibitions; and the Leo S. Bing Center, which included the theater, library, and educational spaces.

Criticism of its infrastructure was not long in coming, however, and plans for expansion and renovation began in the 1980s. After years and projects, only other pavilions were built, such as the “Japanese Art Pavilion”. Until, thanks to the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, the same as the Pompidou Center in Paris, it was possible to integrate all the scattered buildings of the museum, converging on a unitary campus, even providing it with exhibitions in public spaces abroad.

With its 150,000 works, LACMA has pieces of great notoriety. Degas, Mondrian, René Magritte, Hokusai or Paul Cézanne. I am and many more, with pieces that span thousands of years of art history, from prehistory to the present day.

As one of the largest museums in the United States, it prides itself on its innovative design and outdoor art installations that you can visit even without entering, as well as its permanent collection and rotating exhibits. These public spaces include Alexander Calder's kinetic sculptures and Chris Burden's installation of more than 200 vintage lanterns from the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

It is so large that the museum is divided into five buildings, each dedicated to a particular art form. Modern and contemporary art congregates in the Ahmanson Building. American and pre-Columbian art is in the Art of the Americas Building, while Oriental, Korean and Chinese, and Mesopotamian and Egyptian art is moving from the Hammer Building to a new expansion underway. For Japanese art sculptures and ceramics the Japanese Art Pavilion was built and finally the Resnick Pavilion is dedicated to contemporary temporary exhibitions.

Within the complex, the Hammer Museum is next door to the famous University of Los Angeles. Originally it was intended to house the personal collection of its founder, Armand Hammer, who was a great lover of the 19th century masters. Currently in its rooms you can see a number of works by emblematic French artists: Corot, Manet, Van Gogh, Sisley, Gauguin or Pissarro, among others.

Los Angeles: art beyond the cinema | Words

We advise you to visit the LACMA website before planning your visit to give you an idea of ​​its magnitude, and it also contains more than 20,000 digitized works that you can download.

The Broad. Modern and Current

The Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles, called The Broad, opened its doors in 2008. Its collection focuses on pieces from the 1950s to the present, and has become a central space for contemporary art worldwide.

Owns over 2,000 pieces of art, including some masterpieces of the last century: Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, John Baldessari, Yayoi Kusama, Barbara Kruger , Ed Ruscha, Cy Twombly and Takashi Murakami. This great gallery of names and works really is impressive.

They are exhibited in two gallery floors, and although the permanent collection is continuous, the pieces rotate in place and space. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, poetry nights, family weekends, talks, screenings and many art-related events.

There are two installations by Yayoi Kusama that are the most sought after by visitors. For the first, you have to register for a visit to the "Infinity Mirrored Room", at the entrance to the museum. It is necessary since this part of the exhibition has very limited places and places tend to fill up easily every day, there are even people who arrive before it opens to get a pass. The second room, "Longing for Eternity," is on the third floor and does not require prior registration.

In addition, the museum offers guides through digital applications that you can download and help you deepen and broaden the experience. They include comments by curators and artists on the exhibited works, as well as some children's narrations. Guides and maps are available in many languages, including Spanish.

Street Art and Graffiti in the Arts District

Located on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles, the Arts District is a thriving hub of creative activity. The neighborhood's 20th-century industrial buildings have been transformed into contemporary art studios and galleries, much like Manhattan's Chelsea, but in a higher dimension.

The real draw is the sheer amount of graffiti and street art scattered all over the streets. The walls of the district are constantly changing. The neighborhood is known for its murals, some more permanent than others, although always with the feeling of the ephemeral. You can visit this neighborhood on every trip to the city and, beyond some classics, you will always find more and new murals. Each street gives way to different elements and colors. When some begin to deteriorate or fade, new artists take the walls for themselves with truly amazing creations.

There are many walking tours, there are cheaper and more expensive ones, specially designed so that you don't miss the works that cause a sensation at all times and the history that many of them keep. This is a true open-air museum in constant change.

Huntington Library and its gardens

To take a break from the hectic life of Los Angeles, nothing better than a visit to The Huntington Library and its gardens. The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens are located in the community of San Marino near Pasadena, just outside of Los Angeles. The estate is the former home of railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington, and built in the first decade of the 20th century.

His second wife was the one who started a collection of British and French art that is now on display in the house and galleries. The collection of books was so large that they had no place in the great mansion and they had to build a new building, the library, which was completed in 1921.

One of the highlights of the permanent display is an original Gutenberg Bible in illuminated Latin dating to 1455. This is one of the earliest works printed with movable type, and one of only 12 surviving copies of the 45 Johann Gutenberg originals. Another treasure in the collection is the 15th-century Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Also included are first editions of Shakespeare's works, as well as personal letters from Charlotte Bronte, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens are considered one of the most beautiful on the West Coast. Many visitors go straight to explore these gardens. According to official information, it has more than 14,000 varieties of plants, mostly exotic ornamentals from all over southern California and the rest of the world, organized into 14 themed gardens. There is a well organized tour to visit them.

The oldest gardens are: Lily Ponds, Palm Garden, Desert Garden and Japanese Garden, which were designed by William Hertrich. Subtropical and Australian plants, herbs, camellia, and rose garden were added later. Other areas include the Shakespeare Garden, the Jungle Garden, the Children's Garden and the Conservatory. The latest major addition is the Chinese Garden, planned to be the largest outside of China.

Two Great Buildings to Visit

The famous Walt Disney Concert Hall building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It became an icon of Los Angeles from the moment it opened its doors to the public on October 22, 2003. It is located on Grand Avenue, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, and its main concert hall seats more than 2,200 people. Its wonderful acoustics are the work of Yasuhisa Toyota. This concert hall has garnered praise for its architecture and for its extraordinary sound qualities.

If you have a little time, we advise you to take a guided or self-guided tour, one hour long, inside the building.

The second place we recommend you visit is the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The beautiful building opened to the public in 1935, and thanks to its benefactor, philanthropist J. Griffith, admission is free. The planetarium was used to train astronauts for the first lunar missions of the Apollo program and also became famous for appearing in countless movies. From there, you can not only see the stars, but its location offers you the best panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign.

Additional yapa: The Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum has an unparalleled collection of Western art spread across two locations: the Getty Center in Brentwood and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. The latter houses a vast collection of art from ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria, inside a building built in the image of the famous Villa of the Papyri in ancient Pompeii.

The Getty Center is also visited for its grand architecture and the lush gardens that surround it. Located in the hills of Brentwood, and with more than 88,200 square meters of surface area, its rooms exhibit masterpieces by artists of all eras and nationalities: Poussin, Paul Gauguin, JMW Turner, Rembrandt, Watteau, Manet and many others.

While the center is open to the general public, a visit to the Villa requires prior reservation.

This is just a small sample of the large number and variety of proposals related to art that the city of Los Angeles has to offer us. Let's keep this in mind when we relate it to the frivolity of Hollywood cinema. The true stars of the city really are its artistic and cultural treasures.