As usual, William Poundstone cuts through the cant to remind us that Paul Schimmel was as populist and controversial a curator as his supposed nemesis, Jeffrey Dietch. Where Schimmel wins, in Poundstone’s estimation, was in his ability to convert curiosity surrounding novel ideas into an engagement with art:
Schimmel did a show on psychedelic drugs, “Ecstasy: In and About Altered States,” in 2005. (Imagine the furor if Deitch announced he was doing a cannabis show!) It was Schimmel who put the Louis Vuitton boutique in “©Takashi Murakami” (2007), and he got more flak for it than Deitch did for his Mercedes product placement this spring. From 1992, when Schimmel championed Robert Williams’ hot rod culture art in “Helter Skelter,” to 2011, when he had punk bands X, the Dead Kennedies, and the Avengers perform for “Under the Big Black Sun,” Schimmel’s exhibitions have regularly explored youth culture, celebrity, sex, commercialism, the low brow, and shock value. Now obviously Schimmel and Deitch don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but it’s not like they’re Superman and Bizarro.
Paul Schimmel, The Populist Curator (Los Angeles County Museum on Fire/Artinfo)