Art and culture

Where to find the best public art in LA

December 09, 2020

A city famous for its trailblazing museums and dynamic independent galleries, it's little surprise that Los Angeles also offers incredible public art. From street art to sculpture, here’s how to uncover the best of LA’s public art.

‘Electric Fountain’ by Robert Merrell Gage

A local landmark in Beverly Hills since 1931, ‘Electric Fountain’ features a striking sculpture by Robert Merrell Gage, cast in concrete and mounted on a soaring 6m/20ft shaft that ascents out of an ornate pool. The sculpture itself is of a Tongva Native American, who is captured kneeling in prayer. Visit the fountain at night to see the work illuminated by an atmospheric lighting programme.

9800 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Landmark fountain in Beverly Hills
© Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau
Stillwater stone sculpture art
© Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau

‘Stillwater’ by Woods Davy

Another Beverly Hills favourite is ‘Stillwater’ by Woods Davy, located in Coldwater Canyon Park. Known for the fluidity and movement of his works, Woods Davy uses natural earth or sea stones and arranges them in precarious sculptural positions, so that they appear almost to float. Set amid rural surrounds, ‘Stillwater’ mirrors the natural landscape it inhabits.

1100 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

‘The Freedom Sculpture’ by Cecil Balmond

Dubbed the ‘Statue of Liberty for the West Coast’, Cecil Balmond’s ‘The Freedom Sculpture’ is a permanent work that stands in the heart of the city. Designed to embody humanitarian ideals of religious freedom, cultural diversity and inclusivity, the sculpture reflects a philosophy at the core of the US Constitution. Unveiled in 2017 by the Farhang Foundation, the sculpture was funded by people from all over the world and is one of the greatest crowd-sponsored gifts in American history.

10000 CA-2, Los Angeles, CA 90067

Freedom sculpture at night with fireworks
© Farhang Foundation
Blacklist public art at USC

‘Blacklist’ by Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer’s sculpture garden, ‘Blacklist’, honours the creative artists targeted during the McCarthy era in 1940s and 1950s America. Many of the country’s most successful creatives were blacklisted, most notably the Hollywood Ten – represented in this work by ten curved benches arranged in a circle. Located at the Fisher Museum, four pathways, inscribed with quotations from the period, lead to a circular walkway and the ten benches, where visitors can sit and enjoy a moment of peaceful contemplation.

Fisher Museum of Art, 823 West Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90089

‘Urban Light’ by Chris Burden

One of the city’s most famous public works, Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’ has become an unofficial symbol of Los Angeles and an iconic local landmark. Opened in 2008 at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), the work features 202 vintage Southern Californian streetlamps from the 1920s and 1930s, arranged in perfect rows. The lights are turned on every day at dusk and switched off again at dawn – visit after sunset to see the installation fully illuminated.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Illuminated light posts on display
© Museum Associates
Rock suspended between two walls outside
© Michael Heizer Photo by Tom Vinetz

‘Levitated Mass’ by Michael Heizer

Another outstanding public work in LACMA’s collection is ‘Levitated Mass’ by Michael Heizer. An enormous 340-ton granite boulder suspended over a 138m/456ft concrete viewing tunnel, where visitors are invited to walk through the tunnel and beneath the megalith to take in the negative space surrounding this colossal object. The transportation of the boulder to its new home at LACMA saw it travel through 22 cities, and was captured in a documentary film by Doug Pray.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036

‘Cradle’ by Ball Nogues Studio

Installed on the wall of a parking garage in Santa Monica, ‘Cradle’ is a striking public artwork that sees 335 mirror-polished spheres suspended on wires to form a giant ‘Newton’s Cradle’. Each stainless steel sphere is held in position by a combination of gravity and the other balls on the wall, and is arranged to form a sweeping curve reminiscent of the sea. Installed in 2010, ‘Cradle’ is one of Santa Monica’s finest works of public art.

4th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Suspended ball art in Santa Monica
© Ball Nogues Studio
© Joseph Crumpler

‘PARK(ING)’ by Banksy

Sandwiched between two buildings in Downtown LA, ‘PARK(ING)’ is a public work by prolific British street artist, Banksy. Written in a bold red, the last three letters of the word ‘PARKING’ have been obscured, painted over in white and barely legible. From the letter ‘A’ a young girl swings, captured in motion. Thought to reference a local fundraising initiative working to turn an old parking lot into a community park and playground, this public work is one of Banksy’s most popular pieces on American soil.

930 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015

‘The Wall Project’ by various artists

‘The Wall Project’ is composed of ten original segments of the Berlin Wall, transported to Wilshire Boulevard by The Wende Museum back in 2009. Five of the segments were then painted by established and emerging artists from LA and beyond, reflecting on the history of the structure and building upon its function as a canvas for political expression. Of the artists that contributed to the project, Berlin-based artist Thierry Noir in fact painted on the wall when it still divided East and West Berlin.

5900 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wall art on Wilshire Boulevard

Explore the city’s incredible public art scene on your next trip to Los Angeles. Stay with us at The Beverly Hills Hotel or Hotel Bel-Air, and you’ll be perfectly placed to visit many of the city’s most important cultural landmarks.

Please note that some of these artworks might be harder to access at the moment due to local government restrictions. Please speak to our concierge before planning your visit.

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