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Posts Tagged ‘Jeffrey Deitch’

Quote of the Day: Tim Blum

“There’s a whole Deitch camp that are probably rolling on the floor gnashing their teeth.”

—Tim Blum of Blum & Poe

Blum’s comment, referring to “a certain sect of middlebrow graffiti artists who believed they were getting their due from the museum world” under Jeffrey Deitch’s regime, is just one of many quotable bits in a candid two-part article on MOCA, Philippe Vergne, and Dia Art Foundation in the Gallerist.

Pictured, Shepard Fairey’s Marilyn Warhol, 2000.

L.A. Comes of Age (Groundhog Day)

“2014 may prove a turning point for art museums in Los Angeles.”

The Economist, in a Jan. 4, 2014, article citing MOCA’s Mike Kelley exhibition

“There is no question that Los Angeles has become the contemporary-art capital of the world.”

Eli Broad in The New Yorker, Dec. 6, 2010

“Mr. Deitch’s selection… may very well make Los Angeles the most exciting city in the world for museums of contemporary art, the place where the future of museums takes shape.”

Roberta Smith on Jeffrey Deitch’s appointment as MOCA director, Jan. 11. 2010

“Los Angeles, a city of suburbs in search of a center, on Monday came one step closer to finding one.… Whether a single building, however grandiose, can transform downtown Los Angeles is an open question.”

The New York Times on the opening of Disney Hall, Oct. 20, 2003

“The Getty Center should make Angelenos in general feel a little better, in part by making Los Angeles seem more like a real city.… obviously, the Getty Center will enable culturally ambitious citizens to weather the Woody Allen jokes.”

The New Yorker on the Getty Center opening, Sept. 29, 1997

“Q. What’s the difference between Los Angeles and a bowl of yogurt? A. Yogurt has a live culture. Time to pension off that oldie…”

Robert Hughes on the opening of MOCA Grand Avenue and LACMA’s Anderson Building, Jan. 12, 1987

“The City of Angels used to be a place where culture feared to tread. But today the traffic slowing down to neck-crane along Wilshire Boulevard is not looking for stars but admiring the shimmering complex of pavilions surrounded by a moatlike reflecting pool of vastly more substance and value than was ever to be seen in a DeMille superset.”

Time magazine on LACMA’s opening, April 2, 1965

(At top of post: Mike Kelley’s Ahh… Youth. Above: A school group at the early LACMA, viewing Norbert Kricke’s Space Sculpture.)


That 70’s Show

Whenever somebody writes the Jeffrey Deitch-MOCA biopic (opera?), the final act will turn on the disco show. Media leaks turned “Fire in the Disco,” Deitch’s scheme of recreating famous discos in a MOCA exhibition, into a meme. “When I heard about that disco show I had to read it twice,” said John Baldessari. “At first I thought ‘this is a joke’ but I realized, no, this is serious.”

It’s still serious. Since leaving MOCA, Deitch has continued to talk of the disco show (to be curated by electronic musician James Murphy). In October Deitch told the Brooklyn Rail

“I am developing a disco exhibition that will be a combination of an educational experience and a completely immersive club or festival experience. I hope to combine the two, in a way that museums have been heading toward, but that has never been quite realized to this extent, where people will dance in the middle of the exhibition.”

Last November, Deitch realized a proof of concept in “AREA: The Exhibition,” a five-night pop-up recreation of the old AREA nightclub at The Hole, the New York gallery, and other Manhattan sites. The write-up for the exhibition name-checks the many artists who created original work for AREA (click here for the only known photo of Michael Heizer, David Hockney, Andy Warholand Leroy Nieman in proximity). The art and disco connection is not so entirely tenuous as you might assume.

That granted, the question isn’t, is disco worthy of an art museum show? Nor is it are social experiences art? Museum directors face a more difficult puzzle: Is a disco show the best thing an art museum can be doing with its finite resources?

(Photos of “AREA: The Exhibition” by Elise Gallant at purple Diary.)


Artists on Vergne

MOCA’s press release announcing Philippe Vergne’s appointment as director has quotes from all four of the artist-trustees who resigned in protest of Jeffrey Deitch’s leadership. Catherine Opie is “personally thrilled,” and John Baldessari is “100% excited.” Barbara Kruger praises Vergne’s “deep appreciation of MOCA’s rigor,” and Ed Ruscha deems him “the most artist friendly and at the same time most community friendly choice to steer our ship.”

In The New York Times—speaking before the Vergne announcement—Diana Thater said: “We don’t want someone coming into town the way Jeffrey Deitch did, announcing immediately his own curatorial plans. We’re not interested in his personal plans. We’re interested in his plans for hiring more curators and how he’s going to manage the so-called $100 million endowment.”

(Pictured, Vergne holding a Frank Gaard painting the artist gave him when he left the Walker Art Center.)

MOCA’s New Goal: Richer than LACMA?

LACMA has offered to bail out MOCA twice in the past six years. But having met its $100 million endowment goal, MOCA is now almost as wealthy as its Hancock Park cousin. LACMA’s endowment was recently put at $115 million. MOCA has just set a new goal of $150 million, which would take it well above LACMA’s current endowment.

This isn’t about bragging rights, of course. A $100 million endowment might throw off $5 million a year in income, a fraction of MOCA’s cut-to-the-bone $14 million budget. All of L.A.’s museums—Getty and Huntington excepted—still have modest endowments relative to comparable institutions elsewhere. Eli Broad’s Grand Avenue museum will be a rich kid, opening with $200 million in the bank. The effectively brand-new Perez Art Museum Miami has a $69 million endowment.

MOCA’s endowment is 7 times its current budget. LACMA is a much bigger operation; its endowment is a year and change worth of expenses ($96 million for 2013).

How did MOCA raise so much so fast, in an ego-mad city? They’re not revealing the secret sauce, but the New York Times offers this alarming disclaimer: “none of the donations or pledges for the endowment were contingent upon Mr. Deitch’s leaving.” Jeffrey Deitch in fact is listed as one of the major donors.

Ryan Trecartin, Three Years Later

MOCA Grand Avenue’s “Room to Live: Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection” hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention. Curated by Bennett Simpson, it’s a permanent collection show of artists who have emerged in the Obama (Deitch?) years, without household names or curatorial high concepts. MOCA’s acquisition funds are modest compared to the few other museums in its league. “Room to Live,” heavy on L.A. artists, demonstrates how smart MOCA’s collecting has been recently.

For many, the show’s selling point will be the Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch video installation, B: Settings, acquired earlier this year. At the time of the work’s original L.A.-New York-Paris tour (2010-2011), everybody swore up and down that Trecartin was the future of art. Peter Schejeldahl touted him as “the most consequential artist to have emerged since the nineteen-eighties.” For Christopher Knight, Trecartin was “Edouard Manet with an iPad,” and for Holland Cotter, he was “game-changing.”

That kind of talk almost demands a reversion to the mean. When art is utterly of the moment (Trecartin’s “work looks and feels like life today”—Jeffrey Deitch) that usually means that, three years later, it will look and feel like an iPad 2 next to an iPad 5. Scores of ambitious artists have spent the past three years trying to out-Trecartin Trecartin. The CW network has.

I found B: Settings just as mesmerizing this time around. Shown here is one of four room-size components, The Re’Search (Re’Search Wait’S)Re’Search is a mumblecore music video reality show poetry slam that’s better than 99 percent of the works slotted into one of those pigeonholes. It still looks like the future, three years and counting.

Disney’s Weirdo Museum Inspires a Marvel Comic

What Southern California museum inspired a Marvel comic book? In an ideal world, I’d vote for Jeffrey Deitch’s MOCA. In this world, the answer is Walt Disney’s never-realized “Museum of the Weird.” The latter was to have been an attraction at Disneyland. Disney took his museum idea seriously enough to commission animation artist Rolly Crump to design it.

As I wrote in a 2010 post,

“Crump was an ‘in-betweener’ in more ways than one. He was an assistant animator, a beatnik, a doper, and a modernist sculptor influenced by Alexander Calder. In the 1950s, while working for Disney, Crump produced satirical posters promoting jazz bands and recreational drugs. After seeing an in-house show of his mobiles and marijuana posters, Disney decided Crump was the man for the museum project. But after Disney’s 1965 death, management decided the museum was too weird for Disneyland.”

Fast-forward to 2009. The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Comics. Pirates of the Caribbean was a global goldmine, and Disney bean-counters were fanning intellectual property detectors over every Disney park ride. One outcome is Marvel’s Seekers of the Weird comic book, based on Disney and Crump’s imagineering. The first issue is due in January 2014.

There was film interest well before the comic book. In 2010 Frank Zappa’s screenwriter son Ahmet was pitching a “Museum of the Weird” movie. (And lately Frank Zappa’s weirdo music has gotten renewed attention—at Disney Hall.)

Below is Rolly Crump with a maquette of his Grandfather Coffin Clock, featured on the comic book’s cover.

Jeffrey Deitch Resigned Sept. 1

Jeffrey Deitch officially resigned as MOCA’s director Sept. 1—as mentioned in last night’s REDCAT talk and today’s L.A. Times. No surprise, except that it took 6 weeks for this newsworthy event to make the local news. Please excuse a couple of recent posts (here and here).

(Graphic via the Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator)

The Broad’s Exhibition Plans

Overlooked in the Broad’s announcement of free general admission is a corollary: the Broad will be doing loan exhibitions.

No one spelled that out—“We’re looking at all kinds of exhibitions,” said Broad director Joanne Heyler—but it seems to be an inescapable conclusion. In announcing the free admission, the Broad carved out an exception for “special ticketed exhibitions” and promised a discount for MOCA members. Ergo, the special shows will not be free. It’s hard to imagine a free museum charging for shows drawn entirely from its own collection.

Loan shows might not seem like a surprise, were it not for Broad’s evolving intentions. After dashing expectations that his collection might be donated to LACMA, Broad went through a period in which he talked as if museums were bad because they have so much art in storage. He vowed instead to run a “lending library,” with LACMA to have first dibs.

It was never clear how that would work. Obviously LACMA would have preferred to have its pick of the Broad collection on perpetual loan at BCAM. Broad’s superlative groups of 128 Cindy Shermans (left) and nearly 600 Joseph Beuys multiples are light-sensitive. Ideology aside, they need a lot of me time in the store room.

Broad spoke of building a new foundation headquarters and storage facility—not a museum—to replace the one in Santa Monica. Only later, when he began playing off So. Cal. cities for the honor of housing this new storage site, did descriptions of it upgrade into a world-class museum.

When it opens late next year the Diller Scofidio + Renfro building will have 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, versus the 40,000 reported in 2011. A new gallery space on the first floor will augment the main space on the third floor. The (free) opening installation is to be a greatest hits selection filling the building. With 25 percent more A-list art on view, the Broad will have that much less art to lend. That’s not a mission statement, it’s math.

In short, the Broad is looking more like a regular museum, a selective lender and eventually a borrower as well. Judging by the rhetoric, the relationship to MOCA has changed, too. Before, MOCA’s large exhibitions—and that Jeffrey Deitch magic—were to draw crowds to Grand Avenue, and many would check out the Broad. Lately Eli Broad’s been talking up how great the Broad will be for MOCA’s attendance. The remora has become the sharknado.

Deitch Juggles a Second Job

Remember when everyone was terrified that Jeffrey Deitch would continue dealing art as MOCA director? Well… Deitch has a commercial show opening at New York’s Lelia Heller Gallery on September 5, and unless he’s planning on stepping down in the next 16 days, the scare talk will come true. The gallery press release is brazen enough to identify Deitch as “Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.” At this point the difficult philosophical question is, does anybody care?

“Calligraffiti 1984-2013″ updates a street art show that Deitch organized in 1984 and looks promising from the gallery website. At top is El Seed’s Untitled 1 (2013).