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Finding Fine Art All Across LA

May 14, 2021

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Paris, London, and New York aren’t the only places to find some of the world’s top fine art museums. Art in Los Angeles can be just as impressive. Here are some of the best museums in LA for viewing amazing art.

Two Distinct Getty Experiences

The Getty Center has gotten as much attention for its buildings and grounds as it has for its works of art on display. Majestically perched on a hilltop with views of city and sea, the modernist complex transports you to a setting with a surreal feel of the future; the Getty has stood in for the world of tomorrow in movies including Star Trek Into Darkness.

The Getty’s expansive collection of art runs from modern to classic, with masterpieces from Rembrandt, Manet, and Poussin having been displayed. Their permanent collection features pre-20th century pieces from Europe, plus more contemporary works from American and Asian artists. A few of the notable masterpieces that have been featured at the Getty include Irises by Vincent van Gogh and Renoir's La Promenade.

The Getty Villa offers a decidedly different immersion in fine art and antiquities. Tucked along the Pacific coast, the sprawling creation of oil baron J. Paul Getty is modeled after one of the most luxurious Roman villas ever unearthed. And the Getty Villa is filled with treasures from that same ancient world!

While many of the works throughout the grounds are reproductions, you'll find the real deals inside. One of the most famous pieces of art on display is Lansdowne Herakles (Statue of Hercules), a marble depiction of the mythological hero dating to the second century. That's just one of the over 40,000 Roman, Greek, and Etruscan antiquities that make up the Getty Villa's collection.

The Getty Center in Los Angeles
Photo Credit: bfurlong / Flickr 


MOCA for Modern Masterpieces

For something a little more current head to Downtown LA and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). With around 5,000 works it has one of the world's largest collections of contemporary art, spanning from the post-World-War-Two period to today. You'll find lots of works from artists you've probably never heard of as well as top names such as Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles


LACMA's Overload of Art

It may not qualify as "fine art," but the outdoor Urban Light installation is one of the biggest draws at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Especially at night, when the more than 200 cast-iron lights that once illuminated the streets of LA shine in their full glory. But beyond the outside exhibition, you'll find an abundance of art inside, as LACMA is the largest art museum in the U.S. West.

With over 140,000 pieces spanning six thousand years from all parts of the world, it's nearly impossible to say what you'll find on display beyond the current exhibitions. Some of the most stunning (and priceless) pieces we've seen at LACMA include Rembrandt's The Raising of Lazarus, Cézanne's Still Life with Cherries and Peaches, Diego Rivera's Portrait of Frida Kahlo, plus Picasso's Weeping Woman with Handkerchief.


Old Masters at the Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon Museum, located in Pasadena, is itself a work of art, having gotten a design facelift from renowned architect Frank Gehry. Inside the eye-catching structures, you'll find an impressive number of masterpieces: thousands are from the personal collection of the late industrialist and philanthropist Norton Simon.

What will you encounter? Exhibits change, but the Norton Simon collection has works from Old Masters including Rembrandt and Brueghel. French Impressionism doesn't get much better than Monet, Renoir, and Degas. But one of the most popular works of art is something more modern, Pablo Picasso's Woman with a Book, a brightly colored offering in Picasso's trademark surrealist style that's enjoyed a long residency at the Norton Simon.

The art continues across the grounds at their sculpture gardens, an idyllic outdoor oasis with paths winding past many of the museum's most important sculptures, surrounded by trees, flowers, with a tranquil pond, complete with lily pads that would impress Monet!

Outdoor space at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CaliforniaPhoto Credit: Fotos_PDX / Flickr


The Blue Boy at the Huntington Library

About a 15-minute drive from the Norton Simon Museum, the Huntington welcomes with an art museum and botanical gardens. Spanning from Europe to America, from the 5th century to the 20th, the Huntington Art Collections are composed of over 250 paintings and about 80 sculptures.

And while there are lots of impressive examples of fine art at the Huntington, just about everyone comes, at least in part, to get a look at the Blue Boy. Following a lengthy restoration project that brought the oil painting back to its 18th-century vibrancy, the masterpiece is back on display. Railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington bought the painting for $728,000 in 1921, setting a record for the highest price ever paid for a painting at the time.

Museums in LA are home to some of the world’s top masterpieces. So, what are you waiting for? Visit an LA art museum today!

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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