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Two ideas for Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA's new director [updated]

June 1, 2010 | 10:34 am

Jeffrey Deitch Irfan Khan Los Angeles Times Jeffrey Deitch officially assumes the helm at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday, when he becomes the fourth director in MOCA's 30-year history. He'll have a lot on his plate.

Deitch has been working informally since being named to the top post in January, the first art dealer to vault into the director's chair at a major American museum. MOCA has made stabilizing strides since its near-collapse in the fall of 2008, following years of fiscal mismanagement, although the operating endowment isn't yet in shape.

The exhibition schedule is in flux. Deitch's first show -- "Dennis Hopper Double Standard," a 50-year survey of art made by the late actor and organized by painter and movie director Julian Schnabel -- opens July 11.

Update June 2: A MOCA spokeswoman has now clarified earlier information and said that "Ends of The Earth" is scheduled for Spring 2012. The first  version of this post said it had disappeared from the schedule. 

It is also unlikely that MOCA's new director has fully disentangled himself from his business interests. Deitch Projects, the commercial New York gallery he has run since 1996, closed Saturday, but a final public project in Union Square continues until Oct. 3. Given a large gallery inventory of art that Deitch has said he expects to continue to liquidate, potentially sticky ethics questions loom for the head of a major nonprofit.

For the moment, let's set all that aside. Set aside program, staffing, fund-raising, smoothing ruffled art-world feathers, business and the rest. All are important. But if I were Deitch, I would take two other steps as soon as possible: Change the museum's operating hours and make admission free.

To find out why, read the full story here.

-- Christopher Knight

Photo: Jeffrey Deitch at MOCA in January 2010, when his appointment was announced. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times


Jeffrey Deitch's first show at MOCA: Dennis Hopper

Jeffrey Deitch says he'll still sell art -- but not deal in it

Jeffrey Deitch on to another adventure at MOCA

Comments () | Archives (2)

Bringing back the free shuttle van between the Grand Ave and Little Tokyo locations would be an audience-friendly plus, too.

From a glance at the upcoming exhibition calendar at MOCA's website, it seems that Deitch will be saddled with a veritable bunch of lame, museumgoer-unfriendly, snoozefest of exhibitions through 2013. Sure, Deitch will be able to throw a big blowout inaugural party the night before each exhibition opens, but I'm afraid that following that these shows will garner virtually no attendance. Therefore - even with all the work that's already been done - I would suggest that Deitch scrap the whole calendar and start fresh. MOCA needs to get away from these boring academic, Art Center-heavy shows (land art/minimalism, etc) and do some big, showy MOMA-type exhibitions that will entice more Angelenos and, more importantly, our out-of-town visitors, to want to visit.


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