The Deitch era will have to wait until June to begin at LA MoCA. In the meantime, we’ll have to be satisfied with these snippets from around the arts world. Let’s start with the hometown paper, the LA Times:
Interviewed Monday afternoon in the library of MOCA’s executive offices, Deitch said one of the best cards he holds is his long-standing relationships with art collectors around the world. Having sold them art, he’ll try to sell them on giving large sums of money to MOCA, in hopes of delivering the museum from what he describes as an “austerity budget” that can’t support a program of exhibitions commensurate with its reputation as perhaps the world’s best museum for post-World War II art.
Deitch says that as he exits his New York City gallery, Deitch Projects, possibly by transferring parts of the business to some of his current employees, he expects to take a large financial hit, both in the earnings he’ll forgo after having established himself as one of the top dealers in contemporary art, and in leases he may have to eat on the largest of his three gallery buildings and on other sites that he rents for art storage and to provide studios for artists he promotes.
Linda Yablonsky approves of the choice on Bloomberg:
Openings at his galleries attract hordes of young people, while drawing collectors to shows by emerging artists like painter Kristin Baker or Eli Sudbrack, a Brazilian who works with a crew of artists identified as “assume vivid astro focus.” Sudbrack’s contribution to modern art includes psychedelic collages on vinyl custom-fitted to a collector’s walls (and sold by the yard). […] Art and artists excite him. In the two decades I have known him, he has constantly looked for ways to expand the boundaries of art. For him, graffiti art is as valuable a cultural property as a Warhol or a Courbet, an entertaining notion at the least. No one will call him staid. I won’t easily forget an all night shoot at his SoHo gallery by David LaChapelle, whose models were a nearly nude Pamela Anderson and the artist Kehinde Wiley. […] He has boosted the careers of Jeff Koons and Francesco Clemente, and was among the first to recognize the talents of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cecily Brown. (He appears as a central player in a new Basquiat documentary premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this month.) Dazzled by glamour, he partnered with designer Marc Jacobs on a show of art and fashion by the late Stephen Sprouse. […] At the recent Basel Miami fair, Deitch commissioned 12 graffiti artists, including Shephard Fairey, to paint large- scale murals on the walls of a warehouse space in a dicey downtown Miami neighborhood; it became a highlight at the fair.
The New York Times has this:
In announcing the selection, Mr. Broad sought to distinguish Mr. Deitch from other commercial gallery owners. “He’s hardly a dealer like Larry Gagosian,” he said, referring to the gallery owner widely considered one of the most successful in the world. “Jeffrey’s done national and international exhibitions. It was always clear he was never in it just for the money.”
Mr. Broad added: “It’s time to redo the old museum model. The world has changed.”
Since news of the selection began leaking last week, reaction in the art world has been widely varied. “People are stunned — no one saw this coming,” said Steven P. Henry, director of the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. “They’ve made a risky choice. Jeffrey is someone with great enthusiasm and a lot of creative energy, but he’s got a big learning curve.”
Roberta Smith makes an interesting connection to the Cooper-Hewitt’s similar move in hiring a practitioner to give the institution some vision:
This comes less than a week after Bill Moggridge, a prominent industrial designer and businessman, became the first design practitioner to head the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York — an institution thought by many to lack vision.
The Deitch news has of course overshadowed the Moggridge news in the art world, but the appointees are similar in many ways. Both lack experience in museum administration but have plenty of hands-on, real-world experience running businesses, collaborating with other practitioners and making creative things happen in the fields their museums focus on. Each appointment confirms that the other is not an anomaly, and together they represent a kind of wake-up call for museums in general. They point to a return to basics in American museum culture. […]
But Mr. Deitch’s selection should rebalance power and energy among the local institutions, a development that may very well make Los Angeles the most exciting city in the world for museums of contemporary art, the place where the future of museums takes shape. And the move reflects something significant about the state of American museums and their need for new blood. It may be the start of a reversal of the tide of academically trained directors in favor of the autodidacts. Although he has a Harvard M.B.A., what Mr. Deitch knows about art comes from doing, from writing criticism, organizing exhibitions, working with artists and finally running an art gallery.
The Wall Street Journal frets of Deitch’s commercial connections:
“The concern one might have is that he’s truly divested of his commercial interests and that the board is sensitive to that,” said one major art museum director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Eric Greenleaf, a business professor at New York University, said potential conflicts of interests could arise if MoCA exhibitions under Deitch’s leadership feature artists he’s represented. “The show can have an impact on the artist’s value,” he said
Asked about possible conflicts of interest with artists he’s represented, Mr. Deitch, who has been in the art business since the mid 1970s said, “there are too many long term relationships to be completely restrictive. We will do what is appropriate.”
Jeffrey Deitch Talks About What He Wants to Do for MOCA (Culture Monster)
Los Angeles Museum Taps Dealer as Director (New York Times)
A New Boss, and a Jolt of Real-World Experience (New York Times)
Deitch to Head LA Museum of Contemporary Art (Wall Street Journal)