January 14, 2010 · Print This Article
One aspect of Jeffrey Deitch’s startling appointment to the director’s post at L.A. MoCA that’s undeniably positive: it’s shining a harsh light on the role played by glitz, commercialism, business savvy and showmanship in today’s art museum–not to mention the contemporary art world as a whole. The appointment of a commercial gallery director to this top Museum post has put the issue front-and-center, fueling a much-needed public debate that’s taking place in the art press, the blogosphere, and even among friends and colleagues just sitting around shooting the shit.Â That fact alone is inspiring, even if Deitch’s appointment may, for many, represent something quite the opposite of that.
L.A. Weekly has a feature article on Deitch’s appointment that quotes Gary Garrells, former Hammer Museum chief curator and current chief curator at SFMOMA, a former MoCA curator (speaking anonymously, natch), Andy Warhol Foundation president (and ex-L.A. City Councilmember) Joel Wachs, and MoCA board chair David G. Johnson, and others on the pros and cons of Deitch-as-Director.
All of the critical quotes are provided anonymously, of course. The ex-MoCA curator, for example, had this to say about the Deitch to MoCA transition:
â€œI am not worried about his commercial background, and canâ€™t really judge what sort of management skills he has, but it is his aesthetic judgment that to me is the biggest disconnect. There is no artist on his roster that MOCA would show (the only possible exception is his newest, Tauba Auerbach). His eye seemed fairly in tune in the â€™80s with Koons and Basquiat, etc., but since then he has not been a reliable arbiter of what is important in recent art. Way more flash than substance.â€
The art press and art blogosphere are all a-Twitter over an article in last Friday’s L.A. Times suggesting that New York big-man art dealer Jeffrey Deitch is among the top candidates for the directorship of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art. You’ll recall that MOCA has been without a leader (save for Eli Broad’s not so behind-the-scenes machinations) since Jeremy Strick resigned in disgrace over his poor handling of MOCA’s finances, which nearly ran the institution into the ground. Read more