POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
Blum & Poe facade
Lee Rosenbaum reports that Jeffrey Deitch has told her it’s impossible for him to sell off all his gallery holdings in three months, so he’ll have to continue some commercial activity while he’s director at MoCA. The problem with this is that Deitch could potentially boost his sales through the museum’s programing. Realistically speaking his hand in exhibitions probably won’t been seen for another 12 months though as museums typically work about a year ahead of schedule on shows. Even if he wanted to, it’s unlikely Deitch could engineer a profit scheme like this.
Opinion on the potential conflict is mixed. Like Rosenbaum, blogger Tyler Green thinks there are too many thorny issues at play. Greg Allen does not. “AAMD: Directors can’t “deal,” but can “collect.” Allen told Green over twitter “Selling? No mention. Call me when MOCA trustee turns up as buyer of Deitch’s auctioned art”
Regardless of all this though, it’s safe to say Deitch’s statements to the press have varied somewhat, at least to the degree that we don’t know when the actual selling will stop. I’d be happier if the public was given a little more insight on that, though liquidating an entire inventory of that size is no doubt extraordinarily difficult in such a short period of time, so I don’t think Deitch is exaggerating his position. I’m not well versed enough in the business of galleries or museums to predict the kind of conflicts that could arise in the sale Deitch’s inventory while he’s director, but would feel a lot more comfortable about the process if he was starting at MoCA this November as opposed to June. Why chance the matter?
Meanwhile Culturemonster’s Christopher Knight reports that Museum of Contemporary Art will hold a fundraising event at Culver City’s blue chip gallery Blum & Poe. This is a bad idea. As Knight points out,
Appearances matter. In this case, there is no way to determine whether the relationship between the gallery and the museum is philanthropic or business-driven.
I suppose MoCA could vow never to buy art from Blum & Poe to mitigate the conflict of interest issues but I doubt that’s going to happen.