With all eyes on the West Coast for the return of Frieze Los Angeles (February 17–20) after a two-year absence, the city’s museum’s are offering an impressive range of exhibitions, from Old Masters to cutting-edge contemporary artists. Here’s our guide to what’s on view.
“Poussin and the Dance”
The Getty Center
February 15–May 8, 2022
The Getty co-organized this first-ever exhibition of 17th-century French painter Nicolas Poussin’s revelatory dance paintings with the National Gallery in London, where it closed last month. Here, the Old Master’s canvases are paired with new dance films by L.A. choreographers.
“Angkor: The Lost Empire of Cambodia”
California Science Center
February 16–September 5, 2022
The California Science Center has partnered with the National Museum of Cambodia and the Cambodian Ministry of Culture on this exhibition of 120 artifacts from the ancient temple complexes of Angkor Wat, built by the Khmer empire. Half of the objects are leaving Cambodia for the first time. The show is accompanied by the film , played on a seven-story IMAX screen.
“EJ Hill: Wherever We Will to Root”
February 17–April 22, 2022
On the heels of his site-specific commission for Prospect.5 New Orleans and announcement as a participant in the upcoming Whitney Biennial in New York, Angeleno artist EJ Hill’s first solo institutional show presents a suite of flower paintings he made as the artist-in-residence at Oxy Arts. The flowers represent the body in bloom, and the act of painting the itself became a form of self-care for the artist, as he created space to rest and heal after a period of making physically demanding performance art.
“Jennifer Packer: Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep”
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Through February 20, 2022
It’s your last chance to catch Jennifer Packer’s mournful figurative canvases at MOCA. The exhibition features new and recent works, including a series of commemorative floral still lifes and paintings that appeared in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.
Norton Simon Museum
Through February 28, 2022
The last time Édouard Manet’s three “Philosophers” paintings—inspired by Diego Velázquez’s portraits of Aesop and Menippus—hung together was at his retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1966 and ’67, a century after their creation. But the nearly life-size works don’t depict great men from the annals of history; rather, Manet chose contemporary figures who are decidedly down on their luck—they are titled , , and .
“Judy Baca: Memorias de Nuestra Tierra, a Retrospective”
Museum of Latin American Art
Through March 2022
Chicana muralist Judy Baca, who founded the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, gets her first comprehensive retrospective. It features over 110 works, including large-scale paintings and sculptures, as well as preparatory sketches for major works like , a half-mile-long mural in the San Fernando Valley. Ahead of her time in her embrace of art as a tool for social justice and activism, in the 1970s Baca worked with the city’s youth to embed the concerns of underrepresented communities into monumental public artworks.
“Adaptation: Josh Kline”
Through April 9, 2022
In his first L.A. solo show, Josh Kline debuts the short science fiction film (2019–22), set in a near-future New York City that has succumbed to rising sea levels, forcing relief workers to deal with the disastrous effects of climate change. Rather than relying on CGI animation, artist shot on 16-millimeter film and used scale models, miniatures, and matte photographs to transport viewers into this ominous future.
“Ruth Gruber: Photojournalist”
Holocaust Museum LA
Through April 13, 2022
Though primarily known for her work as a reporter, Ruth Gruber was also a prolific photographer, shooting some of the first color film in Alaska and documenting the lives of U.S. soldiers during World War II. After the war, she was the only photographer to capture the plight of 4,500 Jewish refugees aboard the , who engaged in a 24-day hunger strike when a British blockade of Palestine forced their return to Europe. Her coverage of their ordeal was instrumental in swaying public opinion in favor of the establishment of a Jewish state.
“Black American Portraits”
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Through April 17, 2022
This exhibition of portraits of Black American subjects opened last year, when the Obama portraits were on tour at LACMA, and is a spiritual successor to “Two Centuries of Black American Art,” the major show curated by David Driskell at the museum 45 years ago. With 140 works dating from about 1800 to the present day, the show covers important moments in U.S. history, including emancipation, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights era, and provides a positive view of Blackness rooted in family and community, rather than resorting to negative stereotypes or the fetishization of Black pain.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Through May 2, 2022
Bookworms, take note of this exhibition dedicated to the art of fictional maps, including a map of Dublin from a first edition of James Joyce’s , which turns 100 this year. All 70 items are drawn from the Huntington’s collection, including a map by fantasy great J. R. R. Tolkien for his trilogy, and hand-drawn maps by science-fiction writer Octavia E. Butler for her 1998 book .
“Jaishri Abichandani: Flower-Headed Children”
Through May 8, 2022
New York-based artist and curator Jaishri Abichandani uses traditional South Asian iconography and craft materials to make work that is anti-racist, feminist, and queer. It’s the first survey of her 25-year career, curated by Anuradha Vikram.
“Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation”
Through May 15, 2022
Video and performance artist Ulysses Jenkins, who began making art half a century ago with the advent of the first consumer video cameras, gets his first major retrospective. Three years in the making, the show, organized in close collaboration with the artist, showcases his exploration of systemic racism, ingrained white suprematism, and the media’s perpetuation of ugly truths.
“Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning”
Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Through May 29, 2022
For nearly 20 years, Jamal Cyrus has made work about Black American identity and the evolution of the African diaspora, starting as a member of the Houston collective Otabenga Jones and Associates and continuing as a solo artist. This show, which originated at Houston’s Blaffer Museum of Art, features 50 mixed-media assemblages, sculptures, and installations by Cyrus, including record-shop façades selling “musical acts” who were actually Civil Rights activists targeted by the FBI.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Through June 5, 2022
Acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki dives into the archives of his Studio Ghibli for his first North American museum retrospective, showcasing the art behind such beloved films as (2001) and (1988). Interactive installations help bring the groundbreaking animator’s onscreen worlds to life.
“Pipilotti Rist: Big Heartedness, Be My Neighbor”
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Through June 6, 2022
In her first West Coast solo show, the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist presents her immersive, illuminated installations, such as the labia-shaped garlands of hanging lights in (2016) and (2015), an unmade bed visitors are invited to lie down in—once they’ve taken off their shoes. The exhibition showcases 30 years’ worth of work, from early single-channel videos to the multiple full-wall projections of her new (2021).
“Matthew Thomas: Enlightenment”
California African American Museum
Through August 7, 2022
Matthew Thomas moved to Thailand in 2011, but Eastern religions and philosophies have been among his inspirations since the 1960s, informing the creation of spiritual artworks he hopes will help bring balance to the universe. Using sacred geometries in his colorful abstractions, Thomas borrows symbols from Buddhism and other religions to represent the elements of earth, fire, water, wind, and sky in his work.
The Underground Museum
Through September 30, 2022
The Underground Museum pays tribute to its late, great cofounder, the painter Noah Davis—who died at just 32 years old but left behind an impressive body of figurative paintings. These selections, curated by Helen Molesworth and Justen Leroy, include scenes from everyday life as well as more surreal compositions.