Los Angeles has long been dismissed as New York’s pretty-faced but culturally clueless little sister. But it’s now apparent that the West Coast metropolis is enjoying a cultural resurgence, with more than 50 art galleries opening in the city over the past two years. On our recent visit, Stylist was won over by the newly opened The Broad (pronounced ‘Brode’), a gleaming contemporary art gallery housing more than 2,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works by artists such as Andy Warhol (including some of his famous Campbell’s Soup Cans), Cindy Sherman and Takashi Murakami (whose 25-metre long painting, In The Land Of The Dead, Stepping On The Tail Of A Rainbow, is so long it takes up almost two walls).
“Los Angeles is now a city where, if you’re serious about collecting or understanding contemporary art, you cannot not come here,’’ says the gallery’s director and chief curator Joanne Heyler. The striking building sits directly across the street from LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art – where you can gaze at Rothkos, Pollocks and Twomblys – and next door to the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Together they are transforming Los Angeles into a US cultural powerhouse.
This artistic resurgence is no top-down phenomenon, either. Los Angeles is welcoming an influx of global artists and creatives, lured to hip neighbourhoods like Echo Park, Koreatown and Los Feliz by affordable rents and sunshine. For 2016, the innovative roving art project The Moving Museum (themovingmuseum.com) has chosen the city to establish an international artist’s residency programme (beginning in spring and culminating with an exhibition in September), bringing together 15 local and 25 international artists.
“This year, the location had to be Los Angeles, which has one of the healthiest art ecosystems in the world,” says co-founder Simon Sakhai. “We’re seeing artists moving to LA from New York, London and Berlin, because they can afford a bigger studio and their money goes further. Los Angeles has nurtured some of the world’s most significant international artists.”
With a 100,000 square-foot gallery also opening in March by contemporary art specialists Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in a downtown historic flour mill, it might not be long before art enthusiasts are skipping New York altogether and heading straight to LA…
Words: Anna Hart