By Kristine Pascual, Nov. 22, 2022 

Less than a year after Joan Didion’s death at 87, the exhibition, “Joan Didion: What She Means” opened at University of California, Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum. The exhibition was organized by New York contributor, Hilton Als, featuring about 50 artists with over 200 works. The exhibit opened on Oct. 11 and its last day will be Jan. 22, 2023.

Heavily inspired by Ernest Hemingway, Didion was seen as the “New Journalist” and was best known for her essays about her time growing up in Sacramento, California. A California native and English graduate of University of California, Berkeley, she has published several works including “Play It as It Lays,” “The White Album” and “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.” She has even written screenplays such as “A Star Is Born” and “True Confessions.” Her work was revolutionary and groundbreaking reflecting 1960s and 1970s culture, delving into love, friendships, nostalgia and more.

The exhibition follows Didion’s life and her time as a writer and journalist. It is laid out in chronological order, and visitors can follow Didion’s life from her birthplace, Sacramento, to other places such as Miami and New York. Didion was a complicated woman with irregular life experiences. Living between two cities on opposite coasts, Didion once underwent psychiatric evaluation. Toward the end of her life, she also battled with Parkinson’s disease. A woman of many trades, Didion left a long-lasting and inspiring legacy.

All the art was incredible and beautifully curated. Many people were there to admire and praise Didion and the other artists in the gallery. Before entering, visitors were greeted with a mural of Didion, titled “Joan Didion,” and photographed by Brigitte Lacombe. Visitors crowded around Hilton Als’ explanation of the gallery. The gallery includes paintings, photography, video, screenplays and more.

The highlight of the exhibition was the museumgoers. Everyone who attended was incredibly knowledgeable of Didion and was there to pay respects to her. It is enlightening to know that many people look up to her and are still inspired by her work. Didion’s work will continue to impact writers and journalists, despite her no longer being with us.

The exhibition will be open from October 11, 2022-February 19, 2023.

Kristine Pascual | The Poly Post

The entrance of the exhibit featuring photograph by Brigitte Lacombe, Joan Didion, 1996 

Kristine Pascual | The Poly Post

From left to right: Irving Penn, “Woman with Bare Back,” 1961,“Mrs. Armory Carhart,” 1942, Hughie Lee-Smith, “Pumping Station,” 1960 

Kristine Pascual | The Poly Post

A portrait photo of Didion in her 60s taken by Irving Penn, Joan Didion, New York, 1996 

Kristine Pascual | The Poly Post

Museumgoers smile at Didion’s legacy and work 

Feature image courtesy of Kristine Pascual

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