Victor Hugo had a powerful voice in the social, political and cultural life in the mid-19th century. While he’s most known for his way with words, he built up an incredible collection of drawings and photographs in his later years. The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles brings you an exhibit featuring over 75 of his finest accomplishments. Here are a few reasons to prioritize a visit.

The Hammer is Hip

The Hammer has often been cited as the hippest, most progressive art institution in Los Angeles–as its special exhibits focus on historically overlooked and emerging contemporary artists. One of the most notable recent exhibits was Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960 – 1980.

Victor Hugo Did it All

Victor Hugo is largely known for his poetry and novels– particularly Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That being said, he left behind a remarkable body of drawings and photographs that were rarely seen or acknowledged.

Most Drawings Were Created in Exile

Hugo was exiled in 1851, after positioning himself as opposed to Louis Napoleon’s anti-parliamentary rule. At this time, he abandoned writing in favor of politics, and used drawing as an alternative creative outlet. He produced over 4,000 drawings in dark brown or black pen-in-ink wash.

Hugo Was Adventurous in His Approach

Hugo’s drawings depict landscapes, architecture, and the abstract. He often allowed his compositions to be altered by soaking or turning the paper they were drawn on, and allowing ink to pool into organic shapes. He also enhanced his images with the use of stencil and collage, and by making impressions of objects like lace, leaves, and even his own fingertips.

His Works were Well-Respected

Both van Gogh and Delacroix admired Hugo’s drawings. Delacroix once suggested that if Hugo had become a painter, rather than a writer, he would have been the greatest of his time.

Discover more of Santa Monica

Learn all about the exhibit at The Hammer’s website, and check out The Ambrose’s blog for more arts and culture related recommendations in the City of Angels.