Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MOCA: What do the next 30 years hold?

Celebrating its 30-year-anniversary the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has compiled an admirable retrospective that superlatively tributes a rich artistic history starting from post World War II to the present, but from a perspective that is uniquely L.A. Like looking back through old school yearbooks, the expansive exhibition in two parts, highlights artists like: Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Sam Francis, Robert Rauchenberg, Edward Rucha, Antoni Tapies, Ellsworth Kelly, and Barnett Newman, to name a few from our gallery collection. Impressive hardly begins to describe this compendium, and the breadth of influence of the MOCA has never been so pronounced.
This leaves an interesting question at hand: How will the MOCA fair over the NEXT 30 years?

It’s no secret that the last year has been turbulent for the museum and its trustees, filled with messy financial predicaments and exigent correlating choices, the most recent being the appointment of Jeffrey Deitch as the new Museum Director. When the museum board announced in January that the infamous SoHo Art Dealer was to take over the position, the public reacted with grave apprehensions that his market-oriented approach might take the museum out of the frying pan and into the fire.

There have been ample critiques of Deitch’s eligibility including the latest ethical accusations and censure of his plan to consolidate any unsold works from Deitch Project with his private collection. In response to the uproar over his intimation that he would continue to sell works from his private collection after beginning his post on June1st, the museum board released this statement: "The trustees understand that Jeffrey is a collector and that he may occasionally sell works from his private collection from time to time in compliance with his employment contract, and the museum's and the AAM and AAMD guidelines.”

There is no doubt that Mr. Deitch is about to become a tremendously powerful man in the art-world. Once a VP of Citibank, and a Harvard MBA grad, it is evident that he was hand-picked for his abilities as a businessman over his curatorial aptitude, although he has proven proficiency in both. Deitch is no dummy, he knows the inner workings of art and money, artists and collectors, institutions and the public, and most of all he offers a different approach. In spite of the current denigration over his collection (bear in mind most Museum Directors have private collections, but few are scrutinized for them), Jeffrey Deitch has the real possibility of turning the museum around. He has everything he needs to lead the Museum into its next 30 years. Now all he needs is the public.

~Vanessa Villegas

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