contemporary art contemporary art

A Visitor’s Guide to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to a large and growing Asian American population, which attracts artists from immigrant communities who create contemporary art. MOCA Grand Avenue is a temporary exhibit place, while Geffen Contemporary Art is the main branch in Los Angeles. It was established in 1979.

The museum holds artworks of Americans and Europeans between the year 1940. It has a vast disciplinary artwork.

The museum has almost 6,000 works, most of which have been gifted by private art collectors. Some major works were by Agnes Martin, Mike Kelly, and Jackson Pollock.

Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles

Lemonade Cafe is the flagship location of the MOCA store. If you visit the museum, do visit it. The MOCA store provides activities like poetry readings and book launches of some famous authors.

A term called ‘ultra-contemporary‘ refers to art made this millennium. However, this term also refers to the most contemporary art types, such as installation or immersive art. Generally, all post-war and post-modern art is seen as modern.

Think of hilarious accidents when the museum cleaning staff remove an artwork because they think it is trash, yet it was intended as a work of contemporary art at this museum.

There is no other city that holds a fantastic collection of contemporary art.

Before art was featured, Artists created art on the streets, like on walls, and presented it. They also used art studios and schools to present. Almost 200 artworks were featured. Then, Mike Kelly, Alonzo Davis, and Carole Caroompas created museums that exhibited contemporary art.

1. How to Get There

  • From East LA Civic Center – 7 min walk
  • From Grand Park – 7 min walk

2. Mission Statement

The mission statement is that the museum is committed to its collection, how it presents and interprets art created after 1940, and to preserve it for future generations.

3. Warehouse at Geffen Contemporary

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA offers workshops, performances, and festivals. One such program that is held is the Wonmi’s Warehouse program. Activities that are provided in this program are:

  • Live International Art
  • Featuring Collaborations with local collection
  • Radio stations
  • Cultural organization

4. Exhibits at Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

4.1. Paul Pfeiffer: Prologue to the Story of the Birth of Freedom

Screenshot 2024 03 09 182847
Website Screenshot- MOCA

Paul Pfeiffer is known for his work that interrogates ideas of belonging and identity. The sport and popular entertainment inspire this art. He portrays people’s obsession with celebrity culture. He demonstrates the desire and heroism of art and nation. The Birth of Freedom is his first retrospective of multi-disciplinary practice.

4.2. Chas’s Stainless Steel, Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts

The sculpture contains 1,000 pounds of stainless-steel wire. Nancy Rubins has done complex and fearless work using these materials, some of which are thrifted and discarded at larger-than-life scale measures.

Screenshot 2024 03 09 220825
Website Screenshot – MOCA

The sculpture is elevated from the ground and expands like tree branches. Her work defies gravity. It was disassembled in 2001 and reconfigured in 2002.

5. Exhibits at MOCA Grand Avenue

5.1. Larry Bell, Bill and Coo at MOCA’s Nest

It is an outdoor signature installation that projects geometric shapes and echoes. It defines SpaceWorks and public art. One of the board members gifted it. This sculpture signifies light and space.

Screenshot 2024 03 09 221152
Website Screenshot – MOCA

This is Bill’s seventh sculpture, which was made into a permanent collection. This intended all his drawings and became his most significant work within his collections. This is placed at the entrance of the museum.

5.2. Mapping an Art World

This art marks the start of contemporary art between the 1970s-80s. This aimed to portray culture and landscapes. This made Los Angeles the world’s most dynamic art capital and has the city’s most artists.

Clara Kim, the director of judicial affairs, organized this.

Know About Some Famous Contemporary Artists

Some famous contemporary artists are:

1. Valie Export

VALIE EXPORT – 'I Created My Own Identity' | Artist Interview | TateShots

Valie Export is famous for her film video and installation art. Contemporary artists established one of the most important bodies of work regarding feminist art in the post-war period. Valie established herself as a truly iconic figure and has introduced herself as an international artist through her groundbreaking films.

She was one of the first artists to use her body as an artistic medium, questioning the female body as a signifier and bearer of information.

2. Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz and Richard Calvocoressi | In Conversation | Gagosian Quarterly

He is a German painter known for his upside-down figures. He is one of the most important post-war artists and a pioneering protagonist for new European painting and neo-expressionism in Germany.

He depicts his subjects upside down to slow down the painterly process and the viewer’s experience of the painting. This technique achieves a unique balance of abstraction and figuration.

3. Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman has established international recognition with her groundbreaking fine art photography. Being a leading figure in the so-called picture generation. She depicts herself in various artificial contexts, presenting a stereotypical image of female characters.

4. Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter Painting: watch the master artist at work

He dedicated his career to exploring the medium of painting in close relation to the effects of photography and recent art history. He renders photographs into paintings varying in subject matter, including landscapes, still-life paintings, daily life, and airplanes.

The German artist moved freely from photorealism to bold abstraction, which no other artist had ever been able to do before.

Other Art Museums in Los Angeles

Other famous art museums in Los Angeles are worth visiting and will inspire you.

1. Getty Center

Screenshot 2024 03 14 133708
Screenshot from Official Website – Getty Center

Getty Center is a mansion filled with antiques that amaze you. The houses hold remarkable French furniture and rotating images. The museum holds unique maze-type gardens that will capture your eyes.

2. County Museum of Art

There is Chris Burden’s Urban Lights, which is comprised of 202 cast iron streetlamps around Los Angeles. It has become one of the city’s famous landmarks. The museum holds lots of modernist masterpieces and other large-scale contemporary works. They do have traditional Japanese screens. It is one of the special exhibitions that you need to visit.

Screenshot 2024 03 14 134158
Screenshot from Official Website – LACMA

3. The Huntington Library

The Huntington comprises a library, art galleries, and botanical gardens. The library consists of 12 million items. Researchers from all over the world come to this library to make use of their reading rooms and virtual collections, which serve to develop science and other discoveries.

The art galleries hold more than 500 years of paintings that feature British, American, European, and Asian art.

The botanical garden comprises 16 themed gardens with more than 83,000 plants. It also includes a huge area for research and botanical conservation.

Screenshot 2024 03 14 134636
Screenshot from Official Website – The Huntington


In conclusion, artists are climbing the ladder of success year by year in the contemporary art era. The Museum of Contemporary Art has over 3000 artworks that will inspire you through their journey of art. The museum has brought artists from all over the world and has made their careers grow to the next level.

This is one of the best museums in Los Angeles and a treat for art lovers.

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Pragya Chakrapani