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MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch posts message, seeking to reassure

July 20, 2012|By Reed Johnson
  • Jeffrey Deitch in January 2010, at the announcement of his selection as director of Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art.
Jeffrey Deitch in January 2010, at the announcement of his selection as… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

For the last three weeks the Museum of Contemporary Art has been in an uproar over the resignation (some might say "ouster") of chief curator Paul Schimmel. Subsequently, four renowned artists who served on MOCA's board also resigned: Catherine Opie, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger and John Baldessari.

On Friday, MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, who'd been largely silent publicly until now, posted a "Message From the Director" on the museum's website in which he seeks to offer reassurance about MOCA's financial and artistic stability and its future direction. The message came following a meeting Thursday night of MOCA's board of trustees.

"The recent events and board resignations at MOCA have prompted a number of critical articles about the museum," Deitch's message begins.

"We would like to reassure you of our commitment to extending MOCA’s legacy and international reputation as a preeminent contemporary art institution, to fulfilling the museum’s mission, and to ensuring that it has a secure future both financially and artistically."

Schimmel, who led the museum’s curatorial staff for 22 years, resigned in June following a vote by MOCA’s board. Sources told the Times that he had been summoned to the office of billionaire Eli Broad, MOCA's most prominent funder, and informed of the board's decision. For some time, tensions had been building between Schimmel and Deitch about the museum’s future direction.

In his message, Deitch goes on to describe contemporary art as "the most exciting new cultural platform, connecting with fashion, music, design, film, performance, and community development."

"It is essential that MOCA remain progressive and at the forefront of change, as it always has been," he continues. "The museum’s upcoming program is a response to and an articulation of the current art and cultural landscape today."

Deitch concludes by praising his staff and by citing several upcoming exhibitions, including solo shows of the work of Taryn Simon, Mark Bradford, Urs Fischer and Jeff Koons. Also upcoming are historical exhibitions such as "Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962," a survey of postwar abstraction from Europe, Japan and the United States; and "Blues for Smoke, an examination of the blues aesthetic in visual art over the last 50 years, which will open in October.

For more developments at MOCA, check back later with Culture Monster, latimes.com/culturemonster.

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