Will Jeffrey Deitch Be the New Director of MoCA L.A.?

by Art Fag City on January 11, 2010 · 16 comments Newswire

POST BY PADDY JOHNSON

Image via MoCA.org

UPDATE: Jeffrey Deitch named Director of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art. ArtForum

Amidst the clamor of reasons to question Jeffrey Deitch as a possible Director for Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), “he has bad taste” seems to carry the most weight with those inside the art world. Nobody knows what would happen to his gallery — as Edward Winkleman points out on Art World Salon, there are no precedents (UPDATE: Greg.org notes Walter Hopps ran a gallery before running several museums, including Pasadena, the Corcoran, the Smithsonian's National Collection or whatever [now the SAAM], and the Menil) — and the usual conflict of interest stories aren’t taking off. I can only see this as having to do with the overall fatigue of the subject and a generally assumed resemblance of the situation to what happened with Mike Bloomberg when he was elected as New York City’s mayor in 2002: The founder and 88% owner of Bloomberg, a financial software services company, effectively stopped running the company.

To be clear, I’m not overly concerned with Jeffrey Deitch’s predilection for tacky art as a qualification for the job. He’s not being considered for a job as a curator, but rather, a business executive and fundraiser for the museum. On that level, I can’t imagine anyone more qualified for the job. Jeffrey Deitch is known to be an extremely creative financial wizard; in 1979 he helped start an art advisory service for wealthy clients at Citibank and established the now common practice of allowing clients to leverage art loan collateral. Given that MoCA only narrowly avoided closing in 2008, they need someone with this kind of track record. And if Jeffrey Deitch pushes the museum to do a few more iffy high publicity shows so be it. I can think of worse problems, and the museum had them just a year ago.

As I mentioned to Gawker yesterday over email, the real question New Yorkers should be asking is what would happen to Deitch Projects. Sure, the gallery exhibits a lot of schlock, but they’re also a venue for a large number of rising stars. If Deitch moves to Los Angeles, the New York Gallery scene will lose one of its most active professionals. That’s a significant blow no matter how you look at it.

One final observation on the subject: Should Deitch be appointed director, MoCA will be the second major museum in less than a week to appoint a head from the commercial world. Bill Moggridge, founder of the design firm Ideo, was appointed director of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York last week. Presumably Moggridge will have the advantage of more federal funding than Deitch, given the museum’s connection to the Smithsonian.

Related:

  • greg,org

    As a commenter on Saltz’s post reminds us, Walter Hopps ran a gallery before running several museums, including Pasadena, the Corcoran, the Smithsonian’s National Collection or whatever [now the SAAM], and the Menil. Am I missing any?

  • greg,org

    As a commenter on Saltz’s post reminds us, Walter Hopps ran a gallery before running several museums, including Pasadena, the Corcoran, the Smithsonian’s National Collection or whatever [now the SAAM], and the Menil. Am I missing any?

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Post updated.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Post updated.

  • http://seancapone.com Sean

    I’ll miss the owly little imp if he moves to LA. He could easily transfer directorship of the gallery to someone else, which could also be a positive move for NY.

  • http://seancapone.com Sean

    I’ll miss the owly little imp if he moves to LA. He could easily transfer directorship of the gallery to someone else, which could also be a positive move for NY.

  • http://sva.edu/ce/blog Michael Bilsborough

    @Greg

    Walter Hopps is a good example. I noted that on my own blog, too! He ran pioneering programs, but got fired from the Pasadena. I heard it’s because of his drug habit, but that is hearsay…

    And Jerry Saltz noted on his FB page that “Annie Philbin; she was the Director of Curt Marcus Gallery for years.” Now she is the director of the Hammer Museum.

    http://www.sva.edu/ce/blog

  • http://sva.edu/ce/blog Michael Bilsborough

    @Greg

    Walter Hopps is a good example. I noted that on my own blog, too! He ran pioneering programs, but got fired from the Pasadena. I heard it’s because of his drug habit, but that is hearsay…

    And Jerry Saltz noted on his FB page that “Annie Philbin; she was the Director of Curt Marcus Gallery for years.” Now she is the director of the Hammer Museum.

    http://www.sva.edu/ce/blog

  • Ed

    Very true about Deitch being a financial asset for the museum. However, I would disagree with the “blow” to New York if Deitch were to move to LA. I think it would be a boon to LA and create a slightly more even distribution on the national level for the art scene. Sean’s comment is right on in that regard. We should be so lucky.

  • Joe Roumeliotis

    You called it, Paddy:
    http://artforum.com/archive/id=24633

    (Hi Michael!)

  • Ed

    Very true about Deitch being a financial asset for the museum. However, I would disagree with the “blow” to New York if Deitch were to move to LA. I think it would be a boon to LA and create a slightly more even distribution on the national level for the art scene. Sean’s comment is right on in that regard. We should be so lucky.

  • Joe Roumeliotis

    You called it, Paddy:
    http://artforum.com/archive/id=24633

    (Hi Michael!)

  • jean

    Since museums have shifted from being scholarly organizations to entertainers, this selection makes perfect sense.

  • jean

    Since museums have shifted from being scholarly organizations to entertainers, this selection makes perfect sense.

  • http://www.collinlafleche.com clafleche

    I can understand all of the ‘controversy’ surrounding this–which feels reminiscent of the New Museum / Dakis Joannou controversy, in some ways–but I think it’s a pretty exciting and smart move for MOCA (full disclosure: I used to intern at Deitch). I’m sad to hear that the gallery is (maybe) closing in June. Say what you want about Jeffrey’s taste, I do think the gallery has done some great things for the NY art world (Art Parade) and has put on some great shows over the years. Whether or not people like all the work, it’d be hard to deny the gallery’s importance and influence.

  • http://www.collinlafleche.com clafleche

    I can understand all of the ‘controversy’ surrounding this–which feels reminiscent of the New Museum / Dakis Joannou controversy, in some ways–but I think it’s a pretty exciting and smart move for MOCA (full disclosure: I used to intern at Deitch). I’m sad to hear that the gallery is (maybe) closing in June. Say what you want about Jeffrey’s taste, I do think the gallery has done some great things for the NY art world (Art Parade) and has put on some great shows over the years. Whether or not people like all the work, it’d be hard to deny the gallery’s importance and influence.

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