Fall means it’s back to school for the art world, and there’s lots to learn about long-celebrated, under-recognized, and emerging artists from these 10 shows opening this season in Los Angeles. The Getty presents a retrospective of the fantastical visions of Romantic poet-artist William Blake, while the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Huntington honor influential LA legends: Barbara T. Smith and Betye Saar, respectively. Art Center mounts an exhibition on unheralded 1960s art space Ceeje Gallery, and the Vincent Price Art Museum has organized the first survey of works by Teddy Sandoval, an important figure amongst queer and Chicanx artistic groups in LA from the 1970s to the ’90s. The Hammer’s biennial showcase of Angeleno talent, Made in L.A., features local artists to keep an eye on, and those whose previous contributions deserve greater recognition.
Made in L.A. 2023: Acts of Living
Since its first edition in 2011, Made in L.A., the Hammer Museum’s biennial exhibition of emerging and under-recognized artists in the city, has become a must-see showcase of contemporary artistic trends in greater Los Angeles. Taking its title from a quote by pioneering assemblage artist Noah Purifoy, who stated that “creativity can be an act of living,” the exhibition’s sixth edition features 39 artists and collectives who envision art as interwoven within larger networks of community, history, and everyday culture. These include Guadalupe Rosales, who blends personal narrative and underground Latinx culture into a kind of lowrider minimalism; Ishi Glinsky (Tohono O’odham), who enlarges Native art forms to the scale of monuments; and the AMBOS collective, which addresses border issues through sculpture, performance, and documentation.
Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu)
10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles
Through December 31
Barbara T. Smith: Proof
Over the past six decades, Barbara T. Smith has explored themes of feminism, technology, ecology, and spirituality, often with a focus on her own life and family. The Pasadena-born artist was a divorced mother of three when she began pursuing an artistic career in earnest in the late 1960s, staging experimental performances and xeroxing images of her body that she compiled into books. Proof is a career-spanning survey that encompasses Smith’s influential performances, as well as lesser-known objects and ephemera from her numerous investigations into the space between art and life.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (theicala.org)
1717 East 7th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles
October 7–January 14, 2024
William Blake: Visionary
William Blake may be best known today as a major figure in British Romantic poetry, but his contributions as a visual artist were no less inspired and influential. In fact, as a teenager, Blake began an apprenticeship with an engraver and became a professional engraver himself at 21, several years before his first collection of poetry was published in 1783. His paintings and prints depict biblical and mythological narratives and scenes of spiritual and mystical wonder, all rendered with striking intensity and classical motifs. Organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Tate, William Blake: Visionary opens a window into the fantastical worlds he created through word and image alike.
Getty Center (getty.edu)
1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles
October 17–January 14, 2024
Teddy Sandoval and the Butch Gardens School of Art
This exhibition is the first museum retrospective devoted to the work of LA-based artist Teddy Sandoval, who was a vital force within intersectional queer and Latinx artistic communities from the early 1970s until his death in 1995. Across drawings, prints, xerox works, and mail art, Sandoval explored gender, sexuality, race, and identity with his vibrant and playful punk-tinged visual style. Borrowing the name of a local gay bar, Sandoval conceived of Butch Gardens as a fictional art school with an enrollment of one: Sandoval himself. The Vincent Price Art Museum’s survey expands on his idea, bringing together works by other artists who share his aesthetic or thematic affinities, including Ester Hernández, Marisol, Marta Minujín, Joey Terrill, Martin Wong, and many others.
Vincent Price Art Museum (vincentpriceartmuseum.org)
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, California
October 21–March 2, 2024
Advance of the Rear Guard: Ceeje Gallery in the 1960s
Throughout the 1960s, LA’s Ceeje Gallery provided a platform for a heterogeneous group of artists whose eclectic approaches were at odds with the cool California minimalism of the Light and Space and Pop Art movements, then in vogue. The gallery’s roster included artists who were diverse in background as well as style, featuring Latinx, African-American, Asian-American, Armenian-American, and queer artists who employed expressionism, Surrealism, and other idiosyncratic visual modes to explore unconventional narratives and visions steeped in myth and dream. The exhibition features roughly 100 works by 29 artists, including Charles Garabedian, Ben Sakoguchi, Joan Maffei, Roberto Chavez, and others.
Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery at ArtCenter College of Design (artcenter.edu)
1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, California
October 5–March 9, 2024
Visions of Transcendence: Creating Space in East and West
The traditional view of art history predominantly centers artworks commissioned by wealthy patrons for a wealthy audience. Visions of Transcendence flips this model on its head, instead focusing on work produced by those overlooked by society: incarcerated and unhoused people. This exhibition juxtaposes art made in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe with examples from Western Europe and the United States, exploring how individuals respond to similar conditions under contradictory ideological frameworks.
Wende Museum (wendemuseum.org)
10808 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, California
November 11–April 7, 2024
The House Was Too Small: Yoruba Sacred Arts from Africa and Beyond
The House Was Too Small explores pan-Yoruba theological concepts through over 100 examples of sculpture, beadwork, and ritual garments. The exhibition features objects from Nigeria, Benin, Brazil, Cuba, and the United States, drawing links between the worship and representation of deities in West Africa, and how these practices have evolved throughout the African diaspora. A performance by Ifá artist and activist Patrisse Cullors at the exhibition opening on October 28 will highlight the contemporary significance of these cultural and aesthetic traditions.
Fowler Museum at UCLA (fowler.ucla.edu)
308 Charles E. Young Drive North, Westwood, Los Angeles
October 29–June 2, 2024
Paul Pfeiffer: Prologue to the Story of the Birth of Freedom
Artist Paul Pfeiffer navigates spectacle, mass media, narrative ambiguity, and art historical references through his deft manipulations of video and film, which he refers to as “video sculptures.” In some of his most celebrated works, he removes select people or objects from footage of sporting events which are replayed on short loops, recasting large communal events as intimate moments of emotional intensity. Oftentimes, these recall Renaissance paintings, conveying a sense of spiritual agony or ecstasy. Prologue to the Story of the Birth of Freedom is his first major retrospective, surveying 25 years of his practice with over 30 works as well as a new, commissioned piece.
Geffen Contemporary at Museum of Contemporary Art (moca.org)
152 North Central Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles
November 12–June 16, 2024
Imagined Fronts: The Great War and Global Media
World War I was the first global conflict in which media played a large role in conveying the horrors of war to the homefront and garnering support from citizens. This was not just limited to newspapers and included film, posters, photography, and other forms of popular and fine art. Imagined Fronts takes a closer look at this global phenomenon, featuring 200 objects produced by artists, war photographers and filmmakers, and soldiers from around the world, including Otto Schubert, Félix Edouard Vallotton, Ambrose Two Chiefs (Eskimarwotome), and John Armstrong Turnbull.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles
December 3–July 7, 2024
Betye Saar: Drifting Toward Twilight
The centerpiece of Betye Saar: Drifting Toward Twilight is a site-specific installation composed of a 17-foot-long wooden canoe adorned with birdcages, antlers, plants, and other natural elements gathered from the Huntington’s gardens. The sculpture is set within a “cocoon-like” gallery with painted blue walls and lighting effects echoing the natural progression of day to night. The exhibition will be accompanied by a documentary on Saar made by Kyle Provencio Reingold, program director of Ghetto Film School LA, that contextualizes the life and work of this nonagenarian pioneer of LA assemblage art.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (huntington.org)
1511 Oxford Road, San Marino, California
November 11–November 30, 2025