Mapping an Art World: Los Angeles in the 1970s-80s
Image credit: Barbara Kasten, Architectural Site 10, December 22, 1986, 1986, C-print, frame (black painted wood): 75 7/8 x 59 7/8 x 1 3/4 in. (192.72 x 152.08 x 4.45 cm), image: 60 5/8 x 48 in. (153.99 x 121.92 cm). Gift of William H. Bigelow III. Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

Mapping an Art World: Los Angeles in the 1970s-80s


Exhibition features more than 200 works from MOCA’s collection and reconsiders the pivotal decades of the 1970s and 1980s in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES—The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) presents Mapping an Art World: Los Angeles in the 1970s-80s, curated by Clara Kim, Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs and Rebecca Lowery, Associate Curator. Featuring more than 200 artworks and pieces of archival ephemera—including beloved works by Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, David Hammons, Arata Isozaki, Mike Kelley, Claes Oldenburg, Reynaldo Rivera, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, and Barbara T. Smith alongside more rarely-exhibited works and new acquisitions by Carole Caroompas, Alonzo Davis, Ilene Segalove, and Joey Terrill, among others–Mapping an Art World examines MOCA’s origins as an artist-founded museum as well as its commitment to developing a world-class collection of contemporary art. The exhibition opened to the public at MOCA Grand Avenue on June 18, 2023 and will remain on view through March 10, 2024. Admission is free for all. 

Mapping an Art World: Los Angeles in the 1970s-80s revisits the decades leading up to the founding of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in 1979 and the opening of MOCA’s Grand Avenue building in 1986. Through its compelling presentation of works from MOCA’s collection, the exhibition aims to reconsider the pivotal decades of the 1970s and 1980s, and to explore the spirit of experimentation and collaboration and the unique cultural and social landscape that contributed. Mapping an Art World firmly establishes Los Angeles as one of the most dynamic art capitals in the world, and MOCA as an enduring presence for the city’s artists.

Before the city’s first dedicated contemporary art museum was established, Los Angeles was already home to disparate, heterogeneous art scenes with artists forming different nodes and establishing tight networks throughout the city—from Venice to East L.A., and from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in the north to the Brockman Gallery in Leimert Park. In the absence of a contemporary art museum, artists utilized unconventional contexts including the street, the studio, the art school, and other public spaces to show and present their art, while embracing performative and ephemeral actions to engage their publics in more immediate ways. In doing so, artists were responding to the possibilities of a burgeoning art scene and the urban sprawl and dispersed landscape of L.A.

Mapping an Art World is organized by Clara Kim, Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs and Rebecca Lowery, Associate Curator, with Emilia Nicholson-Fajardo, Curatorial Assistant, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Generous support is provided by MOCA Projects Council.
Also on view:
January 15, 2023–May 5, 2024
MOCA Grand Avenue
Long Story Short presents artworks dating from the 1940s to the present day, drawn from MOCA’s world-renowned, ever-growing collection of more than 8,000 objects. It demonstrates the myriad ways contemporary artists have addressed aesthetic, political, and philosophical concerns in the last seventy-five years, whether by innovating new forms of abstract art, commemorating loves and losses, rethinking the conventions of portraiture, or challenging the secondary status of craft. By exhibiting artworks that are widely regarded as hallmarks of the museum’s collection alongside lesser-known pieces, recent acquisitions, and artworks that have never previously been on view at MOCA, Long Story Short reminds us that art history, and history more broadly, is made in the present.

Long Story Short is organized by Anna Katz, Curator, with Paula Kroll, Curatorial Assistant, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Exhibitions at MOCA are supported by the MOCA Fund for Exhibitions with generous funding provided by the Earl and Shirley Greif Foundation.

These exhibitions are carbon calculated. The museum reduced greenhouse gas emissions through planning efforts and balanced the remaining emissions through Strategic Climate Fund donations. Support provided by the MOCA Environmental Council.

Admission to Mapping an Art World and Long Story Short is free courtesy of Carolyn Clark Powers.

Mapping an Art World invites us to reconsider the transformative decades of the 1970s and 1980s by presenting works from MOCA’s esteemed collection–exploring both the artists represented in it as well as the donors whose generosity led to its creation,” said Kim. “It is a pleasure working with such a rich repository of artworks that reflects the spirit of experimentation, collaboration, and the distinctive cultural and social milieu that not only shaped Los Angeles but firmly established it as a vibrant global art capital. Within this dynamic landscape, MOCA stands as a steadfast and enduring presence, committed to supporting the city’s artists.”

June 18, 2023 12:00am
- June 18, 2023 12:00 am
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