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MOCA paints over commissioned artwork, calls it 'insensitive'

Moca 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."

Read the full story here.


3 men killed on train tracks in Commerce

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-- 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

Comments () | Archives (26)

History repeating itself? Didn't that happen to Diego Rivera in NYC way back in the 30's?

I've heard of speaking truth to power, but this looks more like speaking power to truth.

MOCA represents the elite ruling class. That MOCA whitewashes art it disagrees with is not surprising.

Of course they removed it. It was insensitive to the money-grubbing Jeff Deitch who has spent his entire life chasing after cash and trying to buy class and status. Then you look at the board and realize "Wow, they are all like that, no wonder they couldn't handle the piece." MOCA is run by idiots and sellouts. Pathetic.

Yes, painting over the art was insensitive.

Of course it's censorship. Anyone who says otherwise is simply a liar.

If they paid for it and didn't like it, they have the right to remove it.

The real irony here is that all this publicity re the '50's style coverup will garner more attention for the piece than if they had simply ignored it..censorship usually favours those in power...
Perhaps if the dollar bills had been drenched in blood and oil, it would have been even more effective..but let's see if someone a la Banksy, turns photos or screenprints of this artwork into street grafitti, because that definitely should be what happens now...

did MOCA not see a preliminary rendering if they thought it was "insensitive" once painted? wasteful spending indeed...

You cannot ever paint over the truth.

Really the mural was relatively innocuous in the catagory of "Controversial Art". Nothing overtly original, cutting edge or offensive. Nonetheless, MOCA was wrong to censor this art and will be embarrassed by their amateur, small town reactionary response for years to come.

KUDOS to Mr Deitch! I admire him for standing up to the INTOLERANT art community! Living in the arts district, and being a bit of an amateur artist myself, one thing I've learned is most of the LA "art" community are a bunch of pious hypocrites. If you do something they don't agree with you're "close-minded, oppressive, or bigoted." They seem to love labeling others who aren't like minded. It takes courage to stand up to this group of mud-slingers and slanderers and Mr Deitch had that courage!

The whole damn world is too PC and overly sensitive to the whiners around them. Some art and artists have been, are, and will continue to be controversial. It's the nature of the beast. You'll never please all the people all the time. It's art, it's supposed to illicit a response and get people engaged in conversation. But to not show it because you're afraid you may offend someone, please, that's what art has ALWAYS done. Let 'em judge for themselves.

I like the painting. I may have never seen/known about it had it not been for this article/controversy. In fact its even more compelling to see it in the midst of being covered up. I hope the photographer gets this photo in a museum somewhere, or on the cover of a magazine or something.

MOCA is a very monied establishment. Their discomfort makes sense for who they are. Too bad, but interesting.

Is the whole thing a performance piece? I feel like MOCA is giving this artist a booster shot to his career by this public demonstration of censorship. The martyr-type publicity will be worth more than the commission - or leaving it up, I'm sure.

Museum Of Censored Art.

Deitch is an idiot and a philistine. His "sensitivity" is nothing but cowardice.

And this action is EXACTLY like Wojnarowicz and the Smithsonian.

So the question is, what the hell is a fool like that doing running MOCA!?

And people wonder why MOCA is always in financial trouble. THIS is why.

good riddence to leftist trash

I don't like the message of that art....I find it distasteful on several levels....

That said, I find the censorship of a piece of art because it is ideologically offensive, but not vulgar in any way, an even worse threat to the American way....

Museum of Contemporary A**holes

Come on fellow artists, this mural is profane. We can do so much better.
Has there not been enough shocking torment in art. Or do we need to continue
gorging on the profane, the weakness.
Art, money, death, the way of the land....like...from day one.!
This piece is a one liner. Architects and Designers are kicking ass and have been
and too many artists are just mentally masturbating.
Also MOCA you just got bailed out of a financial mess. Who is guarding the financial fort now?
Is this a new office?- commission/ spend/ instant delete,( paint over that is)
Come on...someone needs to be fired.
timmycrackcorn..or tcc. thanks.

What is ironic or should I say hysterical is they would have met with the artist, asked for drawings and approved the piece BEFORE allowing him to do it. It is contract work!
They got nailed for it is my guess. The elite probably were not too amused as it represents real truth (and heaven forbid the masses know that) not the garbage they allow the media to put out!

In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

It's not censorship. They commissioned the art. They owned the art. They decided they didn't like it because it was fugly.

Censorship is when people are prevented from speaking in a public forum which is otherwise open to all people to express themselves. That is *NOT* what happened here. A private group - MOCA - decided they didn't care for art they had purchased.

Don't like it? Tough. Make better art next time.

MOCA is dead anyway. They only promote the elite. With its leadership the Sistine ceiling would be an abstract of Karl Rove.

Im glad they removed it. It was ridiculous, like something a confused 9th grader would draw with a crayon.

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