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Jeffrey Deitch talks about what he wants to do for MOCA

January 11, 2010 |  5:33 pm

Deitch Jeffrey Deitch won’t officially assume his new job as director of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art until June 1, but between now and then, he has his work cut out for him on two coasts as he winds down his past life as a New York City art dealer while beginning to try to rake in donations for the museum he’ll lead.

MOCA announced earlier today  that Deitch, 57, will be its new director. The appointment of an art dealer is seen as an unorthodox move for the museum.

Interviewed Monday afternoon in the library of MOCA’s executive offices, Deitch said one of the best cards he holds is his long-standing relationships with art collectors around the world. Having sold them art, he’ll try to sell them on giving large sums of money to MOCA, in hopes of delivering the museum from what he describes as an “austerity budget” that can’t support a program of exhibitions commensurate with its reputation as perhaps the world’s best museum for post-World War II art.

Deitch says that as he exits his New York City gallery, Deitch Projects, possibly by transferring parts of the business to some of his current employees, he expects to take a large financial hit, both in the earnings he’ll forgo after having established himself as one of the top dealers in contemporary art, and in leases he may have to eat on the largest of his three gallery buildings and on other sites that he rents for art storage and to provide studios for artists he promotes.

Deitch said the executive search firm that MOCA had hired contacted him in October and “I was very intrigued, but I didn’t take it very seriously” until December, when he started speaking directly to members of the museum board’s 11-member search committee and sensing how passionate they were about the museum and its future.

“They were so enthusiastic, and I then took on some of the same enthusiasm.”

Click here for the full interview and for continuing coverage on Deitch's appointment, check back at Culture Monster.

-- Mike Boehm


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Photo: Jeffrey Deitch at MOCA. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times