Category: MOCA

James Franco packs MOCA for lecture and book-signing

April 15, 2012 |  8:00 am


James Franco is as meta as it gets, the ultimate in creative cross-pollination. He’s an actor-turned-artist-turned-author-turned-actor-playing-an-artist-named-Franco in the soap opera “General Hospital." His new self-referential filmic offshoot, “Francophrenia” documents that experience. He’s also been cast in the upcoming Seth Rogen movie, in which he plays -- who else -- the actor-artist-author James Franco.

Drawing on all those areas of interest, Franco appeared at MOCA on Saturday in conversation with art theorist and Rhode Island School of Design digital culture lecturer Francisco Ricardo. The sold-out event –- which drew an appropriately young, hip-looking crowd of roughly 200 -- marked the release of Franco’s new book, “The Dangerous Book Four Boys.” The book is a companion to the 2010 New York exhibition of the same name and collects interviews, photographs and multimedia artworks around the themes of childhood and media, among other things.

Not surprisingly, however, Saturday’s conversation defied compartmentalization and strayed much farther afield. After a somewhat heady and hilarious dissection of Franco’s short film “Dicknose in Paris” (a clip was shown), the conversation ricocheted among topics, including Franco’s love of Faulkner; insider stories about director Nicholas Ray; Natalie Wood and Dennis Hopper during the filming of “Rebel Without a Cause”; and the upcoming MOCA show called “Rebel.” The latter, a high-concept group show that Franco conceived, is inspired by the iconic James Dean film and opens in May. It’s brimming with art world star power with works by Ed Ruscha, Harmony Korine, Damon McCarthy, Paul McCarthy, Douglas Gordon, Terry Richardson, Aaron Young and Franco.

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Cai Guo-Qiang’s 'Mystery Circle' is a bang-up night at MOCA

April 8, 2012 |  3:22 pm

MOCA fireworks
Wait -- he’s shooting the fireworks at us?

That was the general worry Saturday night as Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang readied his explosion show outside the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. After all, fireworks should go up, vertical, away from people --  not toward them.

But Cai didn’t get his reputation as a world-renowned pyro-wiz by doing what’s expected. “Mystery Circle,” Saturday’s event, would be no exception.

 “You will witness something remarkable,” said Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA’s director, in his short opening remarks. He added: “It’s going to go by very quickly. Make sure you don’t miss it.”

You couldn’t if you tried. Around 7:40 p.m., the sky rapidly darkening, the two-minute warning was given, then it was one minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds, a spirited countdown -- and boom.

Some 40,000 rockets, arranged on the northern wall of the Geffen Contemporary in a crop circle-like pattern, exploded outward in a massive display of light, heat and sound. The packed crowd, gathered just a little to the side and at a safe distance away, went wild. Most cheered ecstatically; though a few were seen to duck and cover.

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Jeffrey Deitch to appear on '60 Minutes' on Sunday

March 30, 2012 |  6:00 am

Jeffrey Deitch
Jeffrey Deitch, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and former art dealer, will appear on CBS' "60 Minutes" this Sunday as part of a segment that looks into the boom in the contemporary art market. But will Deitch appear in his capacity as the head of a nonprofit museum, or as an art-market insider?

Some of both, it seems. Sunday's segment is a follow-up to Morley Safer's 1993 story about the contemporary art scene titled "Yes... But is it art?" In the old segment, Safer questioned whether certain pieces qualified as art. The broadcast turned out to be one of the most "controversial stories in our 44 years on the air," according to the veteran correspondent.

The new segment visits Art Basel in Miami Beach for a look at current art prices and to ask why the art market has managed to outperform the S&P 500 index in recent years.

In a brief excerpt on the "60 Minutes" site, Deitch talks with Safer about the rise in prices of certain artists. He notes that in 1993, a Jeff Koons work was "very well sold at $250,000." These days, a Koons work can command $25 million or more, he said.

Art dealers Larry Gagosian and Tim Blum -- who co-owns the Blum & Poe gallery, located in L.A. -- are also interviewed in the segment. 

Deitch became director of MOCA in 2010. Prior to that, he was owner of Deitch Projects in New York, where he represented a number of prominent and hip young artists. His appointment to a major nonprofit museum was seen as controversial because of his commercial art-world ties.


MOCA exits put spotlight on finances

Jeffrey Deitch welcomes you to his posh L.A. house

MOCA chooses a questionable guest curator for a new exhibition

-- David Ng

Photo: Jeffrey Deitch at the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

MOCA clarifies JF Chen's relationship to James Franco's 'Rebel'

March 16, 2012 |  6:54 pm

"Brad Renfro Forever" (2011), for "Rebel," featuring James Franco, Scott Haze, Mark Mahoney and Jim Parrack.
Earlier this week, Culture Monster wrote about the James Franco-conceived show, "Rebel," which will be presented by MOCA and on view at JF Chen, a large exhibition space owned by Hollywood antiques dealer JF Chen from May 15 to June 23.

For some, the choice to place an exhibit in a space owned by a dealer, albeit one of furniture and design objects and not the kind of artwork represented in "Rebel," prompted questions. Most notably, the Modern Art Notes blog wrote, "It’s extremely unusual — and perhaps unprecedented — for a museum to put an exhibition in a space owned by a dealer or to accept funds from a dealer to place an exhibition in a space he owns." The LA Observed blog took it a step further, putting the headline  "MOCA gets in bed with dealer and James Franco" on its story about the show.

But MOCA spokeswoman Lyn Winter said that Chen is not a financial contributor to the exhibit. Chen is an "in-kind donor” who “made the space available for the project at a reduced rate,” she said.

Writer Tyler Green at the Modern Art Notes blog has since amended his post. In addition to noting the in-kind donor arrangement, he trimmed his quote to read "It’s extremely unusual — and perhaps unprecedented — for a museum to put an exhibition in a space owned by a dealer." Those corrections are also reflected at the LA Observed blog post.

MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, a prominent New York art dealer before coming west, has been closely watched since he took the position in 2010. MOCA was recently criticized by L.A. Times critic Christopher Knight for engaging the owner of high-end vintage clothing store Decades as a guest curator for a show at its Pacific Design Center branch focusing on the great L.A. fashion designer Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985).

As previously noted, "Rebel" isn't the first time JF Chen has opened his space to art shows or art-related events. In 2010, the art-radio collective dublab hosted a fundraiser in the space. More prominently, in conjunction with the Getty-spearheaded Pacific Standard Time, Chen invited the public last fall to view the exhibition "Collecting Eames, the JF Chen Collection."


MOCA announces 2011 acquisitions

MOCA curator Philipp Kaiser to lead museum in Cologne, Germany

MOCA presents James Franco's rebel; taps Beastie Boy to curate fest

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: "Brad Renfro Forever" (2011), for "Rebel," featuring James Franco, Scott Haze, Mark Mahoney and Jim Parrack. From the artist.

MOCA presents James Franco's 'Rebel'; taps Beastie Boy for fest

March 14, 2012 |  5:21 pm

MOCA presents James Franco's show "Rebel"

MOCA announced Wednesday an exhibit conceived by celebrity art rogue James Franco that will focus on the 1955 James Dean movie "Rebel Without a Cause."

"Rebel," though presented by MOCA, will be on view at JF Chen, the Hollywood space of furniture dealer Joel Chen. The show, running May 15 to June 23, also includes work by Douglas Gordon, Harmony Korine, Damon McCarthy, Paul McCarthy, Terry Richardson, Ed Ruscha, and Aaron Young that will explore the themes of the movie, a classic of teenage angst directed by Nicholas Ray.

The choice of venue is already raising a few eyebrows in the art world. JF Chen is described by the MOCA news release as "a newly emerging contemporary art and design space." Indeed, in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time, Chen opened his space to the public last fall for the exhibition "Collecting Eames, the JF Chen Collection." But the news release also notes that Chen was a donor to the "Rebel" exhibition.

As the Modern Art Notes blog puts it, "It’s extremely unusual — and perhaps unprecedented — for a museum to put an exhibition in a space owned by a dealer or to accept funds from a dealer to place an exhibition in a space he owns."

A MOCA spokeswoman clarified to MAN's Tyler Green that Chen will not be selling any of the objects in the exhibition. “Joel Chen is very interested in and supportive of contemporary art and design, and he’s been incredibly collaborative with this project,” MOCA spokeswoman Lyn Winter said to MAN. “The project is being presented by MOCA in conjunction with the artists and JF Chen has been very supportive in hosting the exhibition.”

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Explosions in the sky: Cai Guo-Qiang lures aliens to MOCA April 7*

March 7, 2012 |  4:45 pm

Explosions in the sky: Cai Guo-Qiang lures aliens to MOCA April 7

Hello? Is anyone out there? And do you like fireworks set off by world-renowned artists?

Come April 7, Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang will try to have his own close encounter of the third kind at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary. In the site-specific work, "Mystery Circle: Explosion Event for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles," the pyrotechnically inclined artist will set off three stages of explosions, which will continue on a theme he's been long exploring: the possibility of life in outer space.

As we best understand it, the first stage of the event for museum members will involve Cai letting loose flying saucer girandolas at dusk. Those will ignite, signaling a shower of more than 30,000 mini-rockets that will form crop circles that will launch toward the audience before falling to the ground.

In the second stage, an imaginary alien-god figure (cue the sounds of ELO's "Livin' Thing" or the soaring rock opera of your choice) will appear on the wall, outlined by gunpowder fuses. At the final stage, those fuses will burn down and shoot mini-rockets into the air. The rockets will then leave a burned imprint on the museum wall, creating an outdoor drawing.

In other words, a whole bunch of stuff will be on fire. Satisfied, pyromaniacs?

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Spring art preview: Robert Adams at LACMA, Aphrodite at Getty Villa

March 2, 2012 |  8:15 am

Robert Smithson, "The Spiral Jetty"

After six months of Southern California museum shows dominated by Pacific Standard Time, the Getty-sponsored studies of L.A.'s post-World War II emergence as a major international production center for new art, the spring season turns in several other directions.

Aphrodite meets Quetzalcoatal, to name just two:

Natalie Bookchin: Now he's out in public and everyone can see

The stark and evolving differences between corporate-owned commercial television and personally created online video should get thrown into high relief in an 18-channel installation by Natalie Bookchin, provocatively titled "Now he's out in public and everyone can see." The subject of the work, developed over the course of more than two years, is publicly reported scandal involving African American men.

Bookchin, who teaches in the photography and media program at CalArts, has designed a montage of independently produced online video diaries to scrutinize similarities, distinctions and relationships among individual interpretations of those news events. Social media is creating a new public platform for documentary television. The installation, especially timely during a presidential election year, aims to add another dimension to the mix.

LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), 6522 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 957-1777. March 8-April 15. Closed Mon. and Tue. Free.

Robert Adams: The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs

Forty years of pictures by Robert Adams, a former English literature professor in Colorado who didn't devote his primary energies to photography until he was 30, will survey his long-term engagement with the radically changing Western landscape. Between 1968 and 1971, Adams photographed suburban housing and shopping developments being newly built in the region where the Great Plains rise up into the Rockies, which he published as a book titled "The New West."

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MOCA chooses a questionable guest curator for a new exhibition

March 2, 2012 |  7:00 am

MOCA at the PDC
If an art museum organized an exhibition of paintings and engaged a gallery owner as guest curator, the conflict of interest would be obvious. Even if the art dealer didn't represent any of the painters in the show, the perception of inappropriate commercial entanglements would be the same.

So, what if an art museum opens an exhibition of vintage clothing whose guest curator owns a vintage clothing store? Does the same conflict arise?

Of course it does. But, disappointingly, that didn't stop the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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MOCA curator Philipp Kaiser to lead museum in Cologne, Germany

March 1, 2012 |  4:35 pm

MOCA Grand Avenue exterior LA Times photo
L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art has gone through a series of unexpected high-level departures recently, but at least one outgoing staff member is leaving on a more relaxed timetable.

That’s senior curator Philipp Kaiser, who on Nov. 1 will become director of Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, which is dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

Kaiser was a curator at Gegenwartskunst Basel in Switzerland before coming to MOCA in 2007.

Museum Ludwig, where he’ll succeed Kasper Konig, named him its director designate last August. Since Kaiser means “emperor” in German, and Konig means “king,” it’s a museum that's developing a royal line of leaders.

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Mike Kelley tribute to open Saturday at MOCA

February 15, 2012 |  9:10 am

Screen Shot 2012-02-15 at 9.21.07 AM

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The Museum of Contemporary Art will present “A Tribute to Mike Kelley,” an exhibition dedicated to the work and legacy of the late contemporary artist, from Saturday to April 2.

The show will include 23 of Kelley’s works, plus others by John Altoon, Cody Choi, Douglas Huebler, William Leavitt, Marnie Weber and Johanna Went, donated to MOCA by Kelley. Also on display will be eight parts of Kelley’s 1982–83 performance and installation “Monkey Island,” as well as a series of ‘90s creations including the sculptural installation “Silver Ball.”

Kelley was found dead in his South Pasadena home Feb 1. His sudden death rocked the art community.

“Mike had a profound impact on the world’s perception of Los Angeles art and artists,” MOCA chief curator Paul Schimmel said in a statement announcing the exhibition. “He was an intellectual force of nature, a real catalyst for a whole generation of artists.”

MOCA has 34 works by Kelley in its collection.

For the record, 11:17 a.m. Feb. 15: The photo above was incorrectly credited to the Associated Press in an earlier version of this story. The correct credit is “Courtesy of Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN/Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Cameron Wittig.”


Mike Kelley: Game changer

PHOTOS: Mike Kelley | 1954-2012

Art Review: Mike Kelley at Gagosian Gallery

-- Jamie Wetherbe

Photo: Mike Kelley. Credit: Courtesy of Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN/Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Cameron Wittig.


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