It is probable that Jeffrey Deitch will destroy MOCA’s reputation and then cause or allow it to go bankrupt.

The recent exhibition Transmission LA: AV Club at the MOCA Geffen space had tiny disasters all around it, some hidden from view and some out in the open. Mat Gleason, in a Huffington Post article, details one such mess (Do Corporate Sponsors at MOCA Have Censorship Authority?) and I have heard of others, albeit as anecdotes rather than as testimony. To be sure, no institution is clean. As people we tend toward laziness and corruption, and the people who run the cultural world are no better. But, seeing a trustee’s name on work loaned to an exhibition which might in turn raise the value of said work is petty compared to leasing out the most esteemed exhibition space in the city to feature a product – in this case a Mercedes-Benz luxury automobile – as a work of art. And to then edit the work of participating artists to suit the sponsor adds injurious insult on top of already insulting mendacity. An audience will have no way of knowing that they are looking at objects designed only to remove from them their money. They will think they are seeing evidence of “the best that has been thought and written in the world,” or at least there was a time when they would, and could. Possibly that ship has already sailed, and MOCA, not any longer being THE Museum of Contemporary Art is no longer even A Museum at all.

The shame of the Street Art show is another among the pandering and opportunistic acts of this putative Director. (Director? Really? Directors raise funds, $$$$$ and patrons are the Director’s first job. Deitch is a curating party boy, and a wannabee at that. The Development staff nearly all walked out en masse when young Jeff arrived and I have not heard many positive notes on the endowment or operating funds accounting since then.) The museum (which at the time of Art in the Streets still was the museum of record for contemporary art) had the chance to explore in public a vital and emotional part of our world. Graffiti and street art have blighted as well as blessed our city for fifty and more years and what MOCA came up with was art they had to remove, canned, denatured revolution and the piteous wailings of self-promotion among a crowd of spoiled boys and men. I visited the exhibition, and driving from my home on Melrose I saw painted on walls and curbs and street signs more elegant, angrier and BETTER art than I saw at the museum. Sad. I really do want to know more about the subject and now I probably will not have the chance. The city and the art worlds lose out.

This has to be stopped. Culture is too valuable and too hard to make.


  1. MoCA has had its fair share of horrible shows with dodgy corporate marketing tie-ins going back several years before Deitch . Just as MoCA is known to produce original sparkling gems such as the recent WeeGee show.

    The unsupported and alarmist contention that MoCA faces imminent doom is implausible, cynical, and uninformed.

    as far as reputation, MoCA is not a monothic entity. It’s had triumphs and failures at the hands of various artists, curators, and directors over the years. It will continue to succeed wildly at time and make grubby deals to siphon corporate money to the museum. Deitch will come and go, life will continue, MoCA will be around for decades to come.

  2. Dear Patrick,

    There is something curious about approving a comment in which one’s ideas are called, “implausible, cynical and informed.” While being a gracious host has its pleasures, perhaps you’ll understand that I disagree with you. My words are not cynical ever, they may be implausible – indeed I may be implausible – time, and moca’s decreasing credibly will tell. I prefer to think I am differently informed than you, rather than mis- or ill- informed.

    I have no beef with money of any kind. Corporate sponsors are as cool as any donor. I like transparency on funding and its effects. My argument with Jeffrey Deitch and his work is the utter lack of excellence I find in shows he has authored. Certainly there will be crappy shows now and again, but they shouldn’t all fail.

  3. Also, I doubt the guarantee of moca’s continued presence. Nothing that costs so much can rely on “life goes on.” financially that way leads to disaster (the failure of the previous administration and Board are attributable to this belief) and culturally such complacency leads civilization to exhaustion.

    Cheers and my best to you, Patrick,

    Geoff Tuck


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