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MOCA Adds 115 Artworks to Its Collection

Art * Gifts and purchases, acquired during 2000, include work in video and electronic media.

February 02, 2001|SUZANNE MUCHNIC | TIMES ART WRITER

In a move that trumpets the Museum of Contemporary Art's resolve to beef up its permanent collection--particularly in the areas of new media, works on paper and work by Los Angeles-based artists--museum officials have announced the acquisition of 115 artworks. The works were amassed from gifts and purchases throughout the year 2000.

MOCA director Jeremy Strick stated his intention to increase the museum's commitment to its collection when he succeeded Richard Koshalek in 1999. In announcing the bonanza on Thursday, Strick said he is "extremely pleased" with both the range and quality of the new additions. "Overall, the collection is really coming along," he said.

"The collection is the core of the museum and it has made it possible for us to present many of our past exhibitions, but we need to continue to demonstrate community leadership in collecting," Strick said. "We also need to make a real impact on the work of emerging artists and artists in Los Angeles." With those goals in mind, he has rallied the museum's trustees and established a discretionary fund that curators can use for purchases.

Chief curator Paul Schimmel said the museum has continued its practice of collecting specific artists' work in depth while making a more aggressive effort to enrich its holdings of both historical masterpieces and recent, cutting-edge works. Over the last year MOCA has added earlier pieces by internationally renowned figures, he noted.

Prime examples include "Aerei," a 1977 three-panel watercolor painting of an airplane-filled sky by the late Italian artist Alighiero Boetti, and "Ctesiphon I," a 1968 abstract fluorescent painting from American master Frank Stella's "Protractor Series." The Boetti was purchased by the museum; the Stella was a gift of dealer Irving Blum and his wife Jacqueline.

The museum's collection has been weak in new media, Schimmel said, but it now reflects the growing numbers of young artists who work with video, computers and other electronic media. Among MOCA's new media acquisitions--mainly video installations with audio components--are Doug Aitken's "Electric Earth," a critically acclaimed prizewinner at the 48th Venice Biennale; Tony Oursler's "Glimmer," composed of video projections on fiberglass spheres; Pipilotti Rist's "I Couldn't Agree With You More," a two-projector video; and Diana Thater's "Caucus Race," which employs six laserdisc players and four video monitors.

Many works on paper were acquired with the support of MOCA's Drawings Committee, established to enhance Marcia Simon Weisman's bequest of 83 works in 1996, Strick said. They encompass seven lithographs by Stella, two drawings by Jim Shaw and single works by Richard Jackson, Jason Meadows and the late Edward Kienholz.

Among works by Los Angeles artists on the roster of new acquisitions are paintings by Kevin Appel and Laura Owens, color photographs by Cindy Bernard and Martin Kersels, video installations by Jessica Bronson and a drawing by Raymond Pettibon.

Some of the recent additions will go on view Feb. 11 in "A Room of Their Own: From Rothko to Rauschenberg; From Arbus to Gober," an exhibition created from the permanent collection that will be installed in both of MOCA's downtown buildings. Additional pieces will be displayed in subsequent rotations of the collection, Strick said.

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