MOCA paints over commissioned artwork, calls it 'insensitive'
Street art is fugitive by nature — and vulnerable to being destroyed by angry shopkeepers who just don't appreciate the creativity. But in the strange case of a massive antiwar mural that made a brief appearance downtown last week, it was the Museum of Contemporary Art that both commissioned and removed the work.
The mural, by the Italian street artist known as Blu, had a strong antiwar and anticapitalist bent. It featured a field of military-style coffins draped by large dollar bills instead of flags.
The museum originally commissioned the piece for the north wall of the Geffen Contemporary as part of its "Art in the Streets" exhibition, set to open in April. Last week, upon the mural's completion, the museum had a crew whitewash it.
Several art bloggers denounced the museum's act as censorship, comparing it to the recent removal of David Wojnarowicz's "A Fire in My Belly" video from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
Daniel Lahoda, founder of LA Freewalls Project downtown and one of the few people to photograph the work as it was being removed, said that the street art community is "really upset by this — everyone is talking about it."
-- Jori Finkel
Photo: MOCA had commissioned an Italian artist know as Blu to do a mural on the north wall of the Geffen Contemporary, only to paint over the work before it was officially unveiled because of its political content. Photo shows painters at work covering the mural. Credit: Casey Caplowe