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Joan Didion: What She Means

October 11, 2022 - January 22, 2023

Black and white photograph of Joan Didion hiding her face in a black turtleneck (Brigitte Lacombe, 'Joan Didion,' New York, 1996, 1996)

Joan Didion: What She Means is an exhibition as portrait, a narration of the life of one artist by another. Organized by critically acclaimed writer and New Yorker contributor Hilton Als, the exhibition features approximately 50 artists ranging from Betye Saar to Vija Celmins, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Maren Hassinger, Silke Otto-Knapp, John Koch, Jorge Pardo, Ed Ruscha, Pat Steir, and many others. The more than 200 works include painting, ephemera, photography, sculpture, video, and footage from a number of the films for which Didion authored screenplays.

Opening less than a year after her death at age 87, and planned since 2019, Joan Didion: What She Means follows a meandering chronology that grapples with the simultaneously personal and distant evolution of Didion’s voice as a writer and pioneer of the “New Journalism.” The exhibition closely follows her life according to the places she called home and is laid out in chronological chapters—Holy Water: Sacramento, Berkeley (1934–1956); Goodbye to All That: New York (1956–1963); The White Album: California, Hawai‘i (1964–1988); and the final chapeter, Sentimental Journeys: New York, Miami, San Salvador (1988–2021).

Joan Didion: What She Means is organized by Hilton Als in collaboration with Connie Butler, chief curator, and Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, curatorial assistant.


Hammer Museum
(310) 443-7000
View Organizer Website


Wheelchair accessible
BIPOC-curated, Women curated
Event Type
Exhibition, Museum, Visual Art
Pandemic Info


Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024 United States
+ Google Map
(310) 443-7000
View Venue Website