Los Angeles has never taken kindly to its second-city status. From fashion and red carpets to sun-drenched beaches and theme parks, the West Coast megalopolis takes a backseat to none. And though L.A. may sometimes struggle to assert itself as a hub of high culture, recent developments in the city have solidified its place as one of the world capitals—if not the capital—of contemporary art.
L.A. demanded the art world’s attention last September, when Eli and Edythe Broad’s $140 million contemporary-art museum debuted next door to Frank Gehry’s shimmering Disney Concert Hall. The Broad (thebroad.org)—which joins such respected local institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles—highlights a burgeoning movement in the city. Last year, the New York–based galleries Maccarone (maccarone.net) and Venus Over Manhattan (venusovermanhattan.com) opened their first California outposts in downtown L.A. This year, big European names such as Switzerland’s Hauser & Wirth (hauserwirth.com) and Germany’s Sprüth Magers (spruethmagers.com) will also arrive in town.
Connecting L.A.’s many cultural hot spots—and bypassing its notorious gridlock—is the new Bergamot Station Expo Line. The train, which debuts early this year, will link the downtown arts scene with Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station (bergamotstation.com), an 8-acre gallery and cultural complex set on the site of a historic rail yard.