What really happened at MOCA? This afternoon’s twist is that MOCA co-chair Maria Bell told the Huffington Post: “I can absolutely confirm that Paul was not fired. He resigned.” Bell goes on to praise Schimmel, say he will continue to work with MOCA as a consulting curator, and to regret “that there was misinformation in press.” (At top, Broad, Schimmel, and Deitch in happier times, via Art Fag City)
That contradicts the L.A. Times’ unnamed sources who say Schimmel was fired. It sounds like it might have been a “You can’t fire me, I quit” deal, and Bell is splitting semantic hairs in the name of damage control.
Schimmel isn’t talking so far, beyond two bland sentences in the MOCA press release (that read like a hostage’s forced confession?) Neither are Deitch and other board members saying anything. Weird semi-exception: On Monday, two days before Eli Broad (allegedly) called Schimmel into his office, his @UnreasonableEli feed of fortune-cookie business advice tweeted, “Hiring the best young employees is a lot easier than keeping them.”
Unfortunately, it is a fact that Schimmel is gone, not to be replaced, and Deitch will be taking on a bigger curatorial role—so says MOCA. ”I think they completely destroyed that museum,” Joe Goode said. His opinion is not just the median one, it’s the only one. As far as I can tell no one, on an Internet that thrives on controversy and contrarianism, is making the case that Schimmel’s departure is anything less than a disaster for MOCA. Intentionally or not, this time Deitch has delivered something the art world hardly ever sees: unanimity.
UPDATE. Deitch told the Wall Street Journal, “He resigned. He was not fired.” Schimmel had no comment.