Arts and culture of Los Angeles

The arts and culture of Los Angeles are varied.

Motion pictures

TCL Chinese Theatre

The greater Los Angeles area is the most important site in the United States for movie and television production. This has drawn not only actors, but also writers, composers, artists, and other creative individuals to the area.

The area is home to many institutes that study and appreciate film production, such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and American Film Institute. Various awards are given annually for movie and television production, some of which garner huge worldwide audiences. There are many Film festivals, like the Los Angeles Film Festival sponsored by IFP/Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival conducted by the Outfest. Specialty theatres like Grauman's Egyptian Theatre and art houses like the Nuart Theatre screen eclectic mixes of new and historic movies.

Although film production in Los Angeles remains the most important center for the medium, Hollywood has become more international, thus it faces increasing competition, however, from other parts of the United States and from the Canadian cities of Vancouver, British Columbia and Toronto, Ontario as well as numerous other countries around the world such as Romania and Australasia that provide Hollywood with lower production costs. The phenomenon of entertainment companies running away to other locales in search of lower labor and production costs is known as "runaway production" although the trend shows signs of reversing due to the current slumping American economy.

The motion picture and TV industries have helped create the image that defines Los Angeles across the world. Many tourists flock to see Hollywood-related landmarks such as the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theatre.


Los Angeles's literary history includes legendary authors like Raymond Chandler, whose hard-boiled detective stories were set in pre-war and immediate post-war L.A. Ross Macdonald carried on the Chandler tradition into the 1950s, and in the 1960s and 1970s blended it with themes of classical tragedy. Walter Mosley, James Ellroy and Joseph Hansen are among the local successors to Chandler. Nathanael West's book, The Day of the Locust, depicted a raw side to the Hollywood dream. Ray Bradbury wrote science fiction after moving to the city in 1934. Actress Carrie Fisher has found success as a novelist. The best known local poet was Charles Bukowski, who mostly lived in Hollywood but in the later part of his life lived in San Pedro. Tens of thousands of screenplays have been written by L.A. city residents, and the movie business has attracted many authors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley, Tennessee Williams, Evelyn Waugh, and William Faulkner.

Los Angeles County boasts a plethora of independent bookstores[1] like Book Soup and Skylight Books, as well as a number of literary magazines like The Los Angeles Review, Slake, The Santa Monica Review, and Black Clock. Los Angeles has many public library branches, including the architecturally renowned Central Library.


Los Angeles has provided fertile territory for writers of fiction with crime fiction being a common genre for stories about the city. During the twentieth century, fiction portraying the city has highlighted the complexity of the city and the discontinuities between its public image and the reality of living there. The size and scale of the city have also provided crime writers with a suitably complex city against which to set their stories. Works that explore life in the city include:


Further information: Music of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is also one of the most important sites in the world for the recorded music industry. The landmark Capitol Records building, which resembles a stack of albums, is representative of this. A&M Records long occupied a studio off Sunset Boulevard built by Charlie Chaplin (who wrote the music for his own films). The Warner Brothers built a major recording business in addition to their film business. At the other end of the business, local Rhino Records began a reissue boom by digging through archives of old recordings and repackaging them for modern audiences.

Los Angeles had a vibrant African-American musical community even when it was relatively small: a number of musical artists congregated around Central Avenue, and the community produced a number of great talents, including Charles Mingus, Buddy Collette, Gerald Wilson, and others in the 1930s and 1940s before disappearing in the 1950s.

In the 1960s the Sunset Strip became a breeding ground for bands like The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Doors. Randy Newman also started his career during this time, and the Beach Boys were founded in nearby Hawthorne during this same decade as well. Much hard rock has come out of Los Angeles, including hard rockers Van Halen from nearby Pasadena, "hair bands" like Mötley Crüe, Ratt, W.A.S.P., and Guns N' Roses, thrash metal acts like Megadeth, Metallica (who later relocated to San Francisco) and Slayer (from Huntington Park), and also 90s rock bands such as Jane's Addiction, Korn and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Softer rock acts also flourished, as evidenced by the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt during the 1970s. There was a sizeable punk rock movement which spawned the hardcore punk movement featuring bands like X, Black Flag and Wasted Youth. In the 1980s, the Paisley Underground movement was native to Los Angeles. In the 1990s, Los Angeles' contribution to rock music continued with acclaimed artists such as Beck, Sublime of Long Beach, Tool, System of a Down and Rage Against the Machine. Other notable rock acts formed in Los Angeles during this decade include Linkin Park, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and No Doubt. In addition, the gangsta rap of N.W.A, and later the solo careers of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, 2Pac and Snoop Dogg, among related acts, reestablished Los Angeles (particularly the communities of Long Beach and Compton) as a center of African-American musical development and G-funk as one of hip-hop's major living styles. The 2000s saw a further flourishing of the Los Angeles rock scene with acclaimed acts such as Maroon 5 and a resurgence in West Coast hip hop in the form of rappers such as The Game. The Black Eyed Peas gained even greater popularity during this decade, and Disney stars such as Hilary Duff, Ashley Tisdale, and Miley Cyrus also anchored their singing careers in the Los Angeles area as well.

In the heart of downtown Los Angeles is the Music Center of Los Angeles County. The Music Center consists of the new Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre, and the Mark Taper Forum. The courtyard, fountain, and public art make it a beautiful location. Adding to its cultural importance, on the same street are the Los Angeles Central Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Colburn School of Performing Arts, and the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra now performs at Walt Disney Concert Hall after having spent many years in residence at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and performs summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The Los Angeles Master Chorale also calls the Walt Disney Concert Hall home. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is also the residence of the Los Angeles Opera and Dance at the Music Center. The Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, are home to the Center Theatre Group, directed by Michael Ritchie.Contemporary Opera Los Angeles presents performances that are sung in English and set in a contemporary style and their proceeds benefit local children's education charities and animal rescue charities.

The demands of scoring thousands of hours of soundtracks for TV and movies also provides work for composers and classically trained musicians, bands, orchestras, and symphonies.


See List of museums in Los Angeles, California

There are 841 museums and art galleries in Los Angeles County.[2] In fact, Los Angeles has more museums per capita than any other city in the world.[2] Some of the notable museums are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the largest art museum in the Western United States[3]), the Getty Center (part of the larger J. Paul Getty Trust, the world's wealthiest art institution[4]), the Battleship Iowa, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. A significant number of art galleries are located on Gallery Row, and tens of thousands attend the monthly Downtown Art Walk there.[5]


The plein air movement of impressionistic landscape painting found early adherents in the Los Angeles area. Instrumental in the development of the genre was the California Art Club (est. 1909) that provided numerous exhibitions and lectures. The art form continues to be recognized as a signature style of California art. In the 1960s, Corita Kent, then known as Sister Mary Corita of Immaculate Heart College, created bright, bold serigraphs carrying the messages of love and peace.

Los Angeles is known for its mural art, and its thousands of examples of wall art are believed to outnumber those in every other city in the world. Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco all created murals in the area.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Chicano art movement took a strong hold in Los Angeles. Much of the work produced followed the Mexican muralist tradition of sending potent social messages. Works produced in this era by the East Los Streetscapers are still extantnt in East Los Angeles and at the Estrada Courts, and works by Judy Baca and the Social and Public Art Resource Center are found citywide. Chicano arts in Los Angeles also gave rise to the internationally renowned Self Help Graphics & Art, known for its Corita Kent-influenced serigraphs and its annual Día de los Muertos festival.

An example of a Chicano-themed mural in the Richard Riordan Central Library

Much of the energy in the city's art scene in the 1945 to 1980 stretch came from private collectors, artists' collectives, print shops, art schools and especially from commercial galleries.[6] In 1943, a community-run arts association in Pasadena merged with the better funded Pasadena Art Institute and moved into what is now the home of the Pacific Asia Museum. Renamed the Pasadena Art Museum, it organized some of the most adventurous and cutting edge shows of contemporary art in the region, notably, an early Pop art show in 1962, and a Marcel Duchamp retrospective in 1963. Although the city had a long tradition of visual arts supported by private collectors and galleries, Los Angeles did not have a comprehensive museum of art until 1965, when LACMA opened its doors. At about the same time, La Cienega Boulevard became home to many art galleries, most notably Ferus, featuring works by artists who lived in the area, Dwan Gallery, and Riko Mizuno Gallery.[6] Although Andy Warhol was New York based, the famous "soup cans" were first exhibited at Ferus. A local exponent of pop art was Ed Ruscha, some of whose work was representational, others consisted of simple slogans or mottoes which were usually humorous, being so far out of the context where such statements would normally appear. An example of this is Nice Hot Vegetables Larry Bell, for example, explored the interaction of a sculpture to its environment, demonstrating that the boundaries are usually not entirely clear. David Hockney, an English immigrant, produced figurative paintings set in idyllic Southern California locales, such as swimming pools in the bright sunlight, belonging to modernist houses. Although these paintings are representational, they seem to be composed of small color patches, somewhat like collages. Finish Fetish—a style that emphasized gleaming surfaces—and Light and Space—art about perception—were other Ferus-bred styles that allowed L.A. to distinguish itself from the rest of the art world. It was during this period that the contemporary arts scene in Los Angeles began to command the attention of collectors and museum directors internationally.

Some of the most respected art museums in the world can be found in Los Angeles. They include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Norton Simon Museum, the Huntington Library art collection and botanical gardens, and the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles. Los Angeles is known for its expansive collections of contemporary art- the Museum of Contemporary Art has three separate incarnations: the Geffen Contemporary, for larger installation pieces by more renowned artists, the MOCA Downtown, its standard collection, and the Pacific Palisades, a large, multi-purpose building in modernist style that houses offices as well as stores and showrooms for contemporary graphic design, architecture, and interior design. Other smaller art museums in the city include the Craft and Folk Art Museum, the California African American Museum, and many sculpture gardens throughout the city, including those at the American Jewish University and the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden. Private art collections that are open to the public are the ones by Eli Broad and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.

In 1989 the City passed a law which requires developers to contribute one percent of the cost of construction of new buildings to a public art fund. The growth of Los Angeles as an art capital was first comprehensively documented in a series of exhibitions partially funded and spearheade by the Getty, but held at all major museums during the Fall of 2011. "The exhibitions, and the events that accompanied them as part of "Pacific Standard Time" demonstrated the pivotal role played by Southern California in national and international artistic movements since the middle of the twentieth century. Art institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego are joining together to create programs that highlighted the region's vibrant artistic scene."

Los Angeles County is home to three professional art colleges, Art Center College of Design, founded on 1930 in downtown Los Angeles as the Art Center School, Otis College of Art and Design, which was founded in 1917 as Otis Art Institute, and California Institute of the Arts, founded in 1961 as successor of the Chouinard Art Institute.

Culver City's La Cienega Boulevard features one of the highest concentrations of fine art galleries and studios in Southern California. The trendy bohemian neighborhoods of Silver Lake and Los Feliz are home to numerous smaller galleries, showcasing local or underground art. Gallery Row downtown is known for its small DIY galleries, such as The Smell, which doubles as a punk and noise music venue.

As the trend continues to expand eastbound, the local neighborhoods surrounding the Los Angeles River such as Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, and of course Boyle Heights are beginning to show the positive effects of the recent Metro system, but most importantly gentrification of the warehouse district on the outskirts of Little Tokyo—known as the Arts District.

The flourishing Thursday Art Walk started roughly 6 years ago has morphed into a weekly showcasing of eclectic pop art, eccentric musicians, and the best taste of Taratinoesque cabaret. With the Bordello, and East Side Luv's commodification of burlesque acts, the contemporary art scene has adapted this—colloquial art-style—as a staple of Los Angeles Art Cultura.


The Eastern Columbia Building is a well known Art Deco building in Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles has many different types of architectural styles scattered throughout the city and nearby satellite cities. Los Angeles has a rich, diverse history of architectural works, having been known throughout professional architectural circles as a testbed for architecture. The case study houses in particular revolutionized residential architecture. Architects such as Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, John Lautner and Frank Lloyd Wright all have important works in the city. Some of the different types of architectural styles throughout the city and metropolitan area are mission revival, Spanish colonial revival, craftsman, Norman French provincial, French chateau, English Tudor, beaux arts, art deco, and streamline moderne.

In downtown Los Angeles, there are several buildings constructed in the Art Deco style. In recognition of this heritage, the recently built Metropolitan Transit Authority building incorporates subtle Art Deco characteristics.

Modern architecture in the city ranges from the works of pioneering African-American architect Paul Williams, to the iconoclastic deconstructivist forms of Frank Gehry, a long-time resident of the city. Charles Eames and his wife Ray Eames designed famous chairs and other domestic goods.


The greater Los Angeles metro area has several notable art museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the J. Paul Getty Museum on the Santa Monica mountains overlooking the Pacific, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Hammer Museum and the Norton Simon Museum. In the 1920s and 1930s Will Durant and Ariel Durant, Arnold Schoenberg and other intellectuals were the representatives of culture, in addition to the movie writers and directors. As the city flourished financially in the middle of the 20th century, the culture followed. Boosters such as Dorothy Buffum Chandler and other philanthropists raised funds for the establishment of art museums, music centers and theaters. Today, the Southland cultural scene is as complex, sophisticated and varied as any in the world.


See also: Korean taco
The Original Tommy's Hamburgers

While the cuisines of many cultures have taken root in Los Angeles, it is the home of the Cobb Salad, invented in the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, the French-Dip sandwich, originated early in the 20th Century by either Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet or Phillippe's—both of which still exist downtown, the ice blended coffee drink by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Original Tommy's Hamburger. The strength of the city's scene is in "ethnic" dining and it is considered to be one of the most dynamic scenes in the world in terms of range and depth. Los Angeles has an enormous variety of restaurants. In its predominantly African American neighborhoods are soul food restaurants such as Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles. According to Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Los Angeles "remains the United States's preeminent city to eat regional Mexican food."[7]

Given its close proximity to Asia and constant flow of Asian immigrants, Asian food has the largest foothold in Los Angeles after Mexican cuisine. Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai restaurants are extremely common place. Japanese food in particular is a staple of Los Angeles' haute cuisine scene with places like Urasawa in Beverly Hills, Nobu in Malibu and Koi in Hollywood. The city of Torrance, with its huge Asian-American population, seems to have the largest concentration of Asian restaurants while the city of Glendale, has the among highest concentration of Persian restaurants in the country. California-styled cuisine is considered to be highly influenced by Asian seafood, as well as by Mediterranean cooking. Even more prevalent than Asian food is Mexican and other Hispanic cuisines.

See also

Further reading


  1. "Gossip Rags Aren't The Only Things We Read: In LA, Local Bookstores Make the A-List, LAist
  2. 1 2 "The Los Angeles Region". Loyola Marymount University. May 5, 2008. Archived from the original on October 18, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  3. "Overview". Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  4. Boehm, Mike (March 16, 2009). "Getty slashes operating budget after severe investment losses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  5. Mather, Kate (August 5, 2011). "Downtown L.A. Art Walk safety changes planned". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  6. 1 2 Scott Timberg (January 1, 2012), Galleries fostered L.A.'s postwar art scene Los Angeles Times.
  7. Andrew Smith; Bruce Kraig (31 January 2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Oxford University Press. p. 487. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2.

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