This year we’ve grown our Los Angeles list to 20 picks — there’s just so much to highlight! As always, it’s hard to distill our favorite shows in a city so dense with excellent art events. Below are some of the exhibitions that resonated with our writers as the months have gone by, from group shows illuminating California art history to thoughtful retrospectives of local and international artists.
3. Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite at the Skirball Cultural Center
April 11–September 1
Curated by Kwame S. Brathwaite with Michael Famighetti from the Aperture Foundation and Bethany Montagano of the Skirball Cultural Center
Black Is Beautiful revealed the context behind the images that popularized a slogan synonymous with Black greatness. Brathwaite’s stunning portraits of Black women in the 1960s and 1970s expanded our definition of beauty, and his images documented the diverse artistic talents that coalesced around Black nationalism. The highlight of the show was its focus on the Grandassa Models, whose images are nearly indistinguishable from present-day editorial photoshoots. The exhibition’s timelessness undoubtedly resonated with younger viewers, and it is my hope that the historical insights presented in the show were viewed in light of the important curatorial strides currently being made in contemporary fashion photography.