Is Los Angeles’ Marciano Art Foundation Really Back?

Following its abrupt closure in 2019, the space now maintains regular public hours and has appointed Hanneke Skerath as its new director.

Photo of a performance by artist Donna Huanca with dancers whose bodies is covered with colors confronting large abstract canvases.
Donna Huanca’s “OBSIDIAN LADDER” at the Marciano Art Foundation in 2019. Courtesy of Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo by Joshua White/JWPictures.com

Last week, the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles announced the appointment of Hanneke Skerath as new director after two years of interruption to the foundation’s exhibition program following the nonprofit art space’s abrupt shuttering in 2019. At the time, the Foundation didn’t provide any justification for the closure—statements cited low attendance and simply said, “We have no present plans to reopen.” Just one day before, sixty workers were laid off after employees had announced the formation of a union in a fast-unfolding chain of events first documented in detail by the Los Angeles Times. At the time, it was unclear what would happen to the former Masonic temple that housed the foundation.

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The Marciano Art Foundation, initially the Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation, was launched in 2013 by mega-collectors and founders of the brand Guess Paul and Maurice Marciano and opened to the public in 2017, when it began hosting blockbuster shows of some of the most known artists of the contemporary art scene, such as Mike Kelley, Sterling Ruby, Ai Weiwei and Christopher Wool. Since then, it also showcased the work of rapidly rising artists like Donna Huanca, who had one of her first multi-sensory immersive presentations at the space. Many artists who showed work at the Marciano Art Foundation have gone on to exhibit in major museums around the world.

Since its closure, the building on Wilshire Boulevard has been occasionally reactivated via collaborations with artists, organizations and galleries, including Gagosian, from which the Marciano brothers have extensively collected. Between 2021 and 2023, the gallery mounted three solo shows for blue chip names like Albert Oehlen, Urs Fischer and Anselm Kiefer. In between, in 2022, LAXART mounted a two-night program at the space, and last fall, LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) staged an opera by Justen Leroy in its theater space.

In conjunction with L.A. Art Week last February, the foundation presented its first official collection exhibition since the closure: “Transmissions: Selections from the Marciano Collection,” co-curated by Douglas Fogle and Skerath. The show brings together fifty-seven international artists from the Marciano collection who, each in their own way, generate signals into the ether for us to hear, asking a wide array of questions about our surrounding reality.

Installation views of the show paintings and a huge black cat sculpture
“Transmissions: Selections from the Marciano Collection” on view at the Marciano Art Foundation. Photo Credit: Heather Rasmussen

In a statement, Skerath said she’s “excited to join the Marciano Art Foundation as Director, and I look forward to collaborating with the team to continue to expand and exhibit the collection and to explore new creative opportunities for the Foundation’s unique spaces.”

Before this role, Skerath was active as a curator, often working within the curatorial duo called LBV, which she founded with Fogle. The duo curated a 2016-17 group show at L.A.’s Kayne Griffin and a solo show of Luisa Lambri at Thomas Dane in Naples in 2021. Together, they also work on several publications, including a 2021 book on the collection of Chara Schreyer, and a 2023 volume on Raoul De Keyser.

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The Marciano Art Foundation is now open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, from 12 to 6 p.m., with free admission upon reservation of a time slot. In addition to the current show, visitors can enjoy the 2019 site-specific installation by Nicolas Party, Trees, which creates a magical forest that grows as visitors navigate the foundation’s space, ascending the staircase floor by floor. Moreover, the renovated Masonic library showcases a set of documents, photographs and Masonic paraphernalia left at the original Temple.

View of colorful wall paintings at Marciano Foundation, Los Angeles by Nicolas Party
Nicolas Party, Trees, 2019, a site-specific commission. Photography © Charles White – JWPictures.com

Despite maintaining no permanent display, the Marciano collection contains over 1,500 works dating from the 1990s to the present day by more than 200 ultra-contemporary artists, including El Anatsui, Ariana Papademetropoulos, Jorge Pardo, Anna Park and Philippe Parreno, among others. The question now is whether the nonprofit’s new course and leadership will change the program’s direction, perhaps showcasing more from the collection, as with the current show. We’ll just have to wait and see, as the official announcement didn’t reveal much about what we can expect to see in the future.

Is Los Angeles’ Marciano Art Foundation Really Back?