The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces from around the world. Established in 1965, it has grown to become the largest art museum in the western United States. With its vast collection of over 150,000 artworks, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. To help you navigate through this prestigious institution, we have compiled a list of the top 10 most famous artworks you must see at LACMA, complete with the date, movement, dimensions, genre, and medium of each piece.

1. Cold Shoulder (1963) by Roy Lichtenstein

  • Movement: Pop Art
  • Dimensions: 243.8 x 173 cm (96 x 68 in)
  • Genre: Painting
  • Medium: Oil and magna on canvas

Cold Shoulder is a defining work of the Pop Art movement created by Roy Lichtenstein in 1963. The artwork features a stylized portrait of a woman’s face, her features distorted and exaggerated in typical Pop Art style. Lichtenstein used the Ben-Day dots technique, a hallmark of comic book art, to create the illusion of color and depth in the painting. The bright and bold colors of the painting, primarily red, blue, and yellow, further add to the work’s dramatic impact. The woman’s expression is ambiguous, as she appears to be turning away from the viewer, giving the work a sense of distance and detachment.

The title, “Cold Shoulder,” adds to the work’s enigmatic nature, suggesting that the woman is rejecting someone or something. Lichtenstein’s work highlights the irony of mass-produced images in popular culture, elevating them to high art. The painting is a critique of contemporary society’s obsession with images and beauty, a message that resonates even today. Cold Shoulder is an iconic work of art that reflects the cultural and social climate of the 1960s and continues to be celebrated for its impact on the world of art.

2. Urban Light (2008) by Chris Burden

  • Movement: Contemporary Art
  • Dimensions: 22.9 meters (60 feet) high, 17.7 meters (58 feet) wide
  • Genre: Sculpture/Installation
  • Medium: Repurposed cast iron antique street lamps

Urban Light is a stunning public installation created by artist Chris Burden in 2008, located outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The artwork comprises 202 restored cast-iron street lamps dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, arranged in two parallel rows. Burden collected the street lamps from around the city, and his restoration process gives the artwork a feeling of authenticity and history. The lamps are placed on a grid-like pattern, creating a sense of order and symmetry. The artwork’s scale and grandeur make it an unmissable sight, particularly at night when the lamps are illuminated, creating a beautiful display of light and shadow.

Urban Light is an excellent example of how art can transform public spaces and create a sense of community. The artwork has become an iconic symbol of Los Angeles, attracting visitors from around the world. The installation creates a powerful visual impact, drawing people to the site and encouraging interaction with the artwork. The lamps themselves are reminders of the city’s history and the role of street lighting in urban life. Urban Light is a testament to Burden’s creativity and his ability to turn everyday objects into works of art that inspire and engage audiences.

3. Still Life with Cherries and Peaches (1885-1887) by Paul Cézanne

  • Movement: Post-Impressionism
  • Dimensions: 65 x 81.3 cm (25 5/8 x 32 in)
  • Genre: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

Still Life with Cherries and Peaches is a classic example of Paul Cézanne’s post-impressionist style, created between 1885 and 1887. The painting features a still life of fruit arranged on a table, painted with Cézanne’s signature bold brushstrokes and bright colors. The composition of the painting is asymmetrical, with the fruits arranged in a diagonal line. The peaches and cherries are rendered with a high level of detail, capturing the textures and colors of the fruit with remarkable accuracy. The background of the painting is muted, allowing the fruit to be the focal point of the artwork.

Cézanne’s still life paintings are regarded as some of his most significant works and have had a significant influence on the development of modern art. The artist’s use of color and brushwork was revolutionary for its time, and his style is often cited as a bridge between impressionism and cubism. Still Life with Cherries and Peaches is a masterful example of Cézanne’s style, showcasing his ability to capture the essence of an object through form and color. The painting’s timeless beauty continues to captivate viewers to this day, reflecting the artist’s enduring legacy and his contributions to the art world.

4. La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) (1929) by René Magritte

  • Movement: Surrealism
  • Dimensions: 63.5 x 93.98 cm (25 x 37 in)
  • Genre: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) is one of the most famous paintings by Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte. The artwork features a highly detailed image of a pipe with the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) written below it. The painting is a prime example of Magritte’s playful and enigmatic approach to art, challenging the viewer’s perception of reality and the relationship between language and image. Magritte’s intention was to convey the idea that an image of an object is not the same thing as the object itself, as the painting is not a real pipe but rather an image of one.

La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) is a masterpiece of 20th-century art, inspiring countless artists and art movements. The painting has become a symbol of the surrealist movement, with its witty and subversive approach to art. The artwork’s meaning is open to interpretation, with some seeing it as a commentary on the limits of language, while others view it as a critique of representation and the role of the artist in shaping our understanding of reality. Regardless of the interpretation, La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) is a powerful reminder of the power of art to challenge our assumptions and open our minds to new possibilities.

5. Tile with Scrolling Floral Arabesque (c. 15th Century), Greater Iran

  • Movement: Islamic Art
  • Dimensions: 39.7 x 39.7 cm (15 5/8 x 15 5/8 in)
  • Genre: Ceramic tile
  • Medium: Glazed ceramic

The Tile with Scrolling Floral Arabesque is a beautiful example of Islamic art, dating back to the 15th century in Greater Iran. The tile features an intricate and delicate design of scrolling floral arabesques, a common motif in Islamic art. The use of geometric and vegetal patterns is typical of Islamic decorative arts, reflecting the importance of nature in the Islamic worldview. The tile’s design is achieved through a combination of glaze colors and careful incision, creating a three-dimensional effect. The tile’s size and level of detail suggest that it was likely part of a larger architectural or decorative scheme.

Islamic art has had a significant impact on the development of art history, influencing styles and movements across the world. The Tile with Scrolling Floral Arabesque is a testament to the beauty and complexity of Islamic art, showcasing the skills and creativity of the artists who created it. The tile’s design reflects the cultural and religious influences of the Islamic world, highlighting the importance of art as a means of expressing cultural identity and values. The artwork’s longevity is a testament to its enduring appeal and its ability to inspire wonder and awe in viewers to this day.

6. Flower Day (Dĩa de Flores) (1925) by Diego Rivera

  • Movement: Mexican Muralism
  • Dimensions: 67.3 x 51 cm (26 1/2 x 20 1/8 in)
  • Genre: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

Flower Day (Día de Flores) is a magnificent painting by Mexican artist Diego Rivera, created in 1925. The artwork features a bustling market scene, with vendors selling flowers in vibrant colors against a backdrop of traditional Mexican architecture. The painting captures the essence of Mexican culture, reflecting the country’s vibrant colors and lively energy. The level of detail in the painting is astounding, with Rivera’s signature bold brushstrokes creating a sense of movement and life in the scene. The painting’s subject matter reflects Rivera’s commitment to portraying the everyday lives of ordinary people, making it a powerful example of social realism in art.

Rivera was a leading figure in the Mexican muralist movement, which sought to create a public art form that was accessible to everyone. Flower Day (Día de Flores) is an excellent example of the artist’s commitment to this ideal, with the painting’s bold and colorful style making it accessible to a broad audience. The artwork’s cultural significance is also noteworthy, reflecting Rivera’s desire to celebrate and preserve Mexican culture through his art. Flower Day (Día de Flores) is a masterful work of art that captures the essence of Mexican culture and Rivera’s unique style, making it a treasured artwork that continues to inspire and delight viewers to this day.

7. Weeping Woman with Handkerchief, Pablo Picasso

  • Movement: Cubism
  • Dimensions: 55.2 x 46.2 cm (21 3/4 x 18 1/8 in)
  • Genre: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

Weeping Woman with Handkerchief is an iconic painting by Pablo Picasso, created in 1937. The artwork is part of a series of paintings inspired by the Spanish Civil War, in which Picasso expressed his outrage at the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica. The painting features a distorted and anguished woman, with tears streaming down her face, and a handkerchief in her hand. Picasso used bold lines and contrasting colors to create a sense of drama and urgency in the painting. The distorted features of the woman’s face suggest the emotional toll of war and the suffering of innocent civilians caught in the conflict.

Weeping Woman with Handkerchief is a powerful example of Picasso’s ability to use art to express political and social commentary. The painting has become an iconic symbol of the human cost of war, and a reminder of the importance of empathy and compassion in the face of suffering. The artwork’s impact has been far-reaching, inspiring countless artists and social movements. The painting’s beauty and emotional power continue to captivate viewers, highlighting the enduring legacy of Picasso’s art and his commitment to using his creativity to make a difference in the world.

8. Three Quintains (1964) by Alexander Calder

  • Movement: Kinetic Art
  • Dimensions: 9.8 meters (32 feet) high, 6.7 meters (22 feet) wide
  • Genre: Sculpture
  • Medium: Sheet metal, aluminum tubing, and water

Three Quintains is a striking public sculpture by American artist Alexander Calder, created in 1964. The artwork comprises three mobiles, each consisting of five brightly colored metal discs suspended from a metal frame. The mobiles are arranged in a pool of water, creating a dynamic display of movement and reflection. The mobiles are designed to move with the wind and water currents, creating a constantly changing composition that is mesmerizing to watch. The sculpture’s playful and joyful style is typical of Calder’s work, reflecting his commitment to creating art that engages and delights the viewer.

Three Quintains is a testament to Calder’s artistic vision and his ability to create artworks that transcend traditional boundaries. The sculpture’s placement in a public space, in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, reflects Calder’s belief that art should be accessible to everyone. The artwork’s scale and composition create a sense of harmony and balance, inviting viewers to contemplate the beauty of movement and color. Three Quintains is a beloved artwork that has become a symbol of the transformative power of art, inspiring awe and wonder in viewers of all ages.

9. Wrestlers (1899) by Thomas Eakins

  • Movement: Realism
  • Dimensions: 143.5 x 195.3 cm (56 1/2 x 76 7/8 in)
  • Genre: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

Wrestlers is a dynamic painting by American artist Thomas Eakins, created in 1899. The artwork features two wrestlers in the midst of a grappling match, captured in a moment of intense physicality. Eakins used his mastery of light and shadow to create a sense of depth and realism in the painting. The wrestlers’ bodies are rendered with a high level of detail, reflecting Eakins’ interest in the human form and movement. The painting’s subject matter reflects Eakins’ fascination with sports and athleticism, as well as his interest in capturing the reality of everyday life.

Wrestlers is a significant work of art that challenges traditional notions of beauty and aesthetic value. Eakins’ painting is a celebration of the human body, capturing the wrestlers’ physicality and strength in a way that is both realistic and respectful. The painting has been described as a precursor to modern art, reflecting Eakins’ willingness to experiment with new styles and techniques. Wrestlers is a masterpiece of American art that continues to inspire and captivate viewers, showcasing Eakins’ unique style and his contributions to the art world.

10. Shiva as Lord of the Dance (c. 950–1000) by Tamil Nadu

  • Movement: Chola Dynasty
  • Dimensions: 101.6 x 101.6 cm (40 x 40 in)
  • Genre: Sculpture
  • Medium: Bronze casting

Shiva as Lord of the Dance is a magnificent bronze sculpture dating back to the Chola dynasty in Tamil Nadu, India, around the 10th century CE. The artwork features the Hindu deity Shiva in his cosmic dance form, known as Nataraja. The sculpture is a remarkable example of Indian art, showcasing the technical skill and artistic vision of the Chola dynasty. Shiva’s pose and expression are dynamic, capturing the energy and movement of his dance. The sculpture’s intricate details, including the flames and snakes surrounding Shiva, reflect the richness and complexity of Hindu mythology.

Shiva as Lord of the Dance is a powerful symbol of Hinduism and has become an iconic image in Indian culture. The sculpture’s significance goes beyond its aesthetic value, reflecting the spiritual and philosophical beliefs of Hinduism. Shiva is believed to embody the forces of creation and destruction, and his dance represents the rhythm of life and the universe. The artwork’s enduring appeal is a testament to the universal human desire to understand the mysteries of existence and the power of art to capture and express profound truths.