Deitch Drama! Dealer Declared Director at LA MOCA

A conflicting mayoral press conference yesterday forced the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to reschedule its own media event, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting that New York dealer and gallerist Jeffrey Deitch has been appointed director of the museum, as followers of the UnBeige Twitter feed learned minutes after it was announced. He will take office in June, succeeding Charles E. Young, who was named chief executive officer of MOCA in December 2008 following the resignation of director Jeremy Strick amidst Eli Broad‘s bailout of the museum.

Deitch is best known these days as the grinning leader of Deitch Projects, the burgeoning New York gallery empire that he founded in 1996 (it will close by June 1 of this year). But he’s also an established curator and veteran art advisor who comes equipped with a Harvard MBA. And kudos to MOCA for noting in the first paragraphs of its press release announcing Deitch’s appointment that he is “known for his innovations in catalogue design. The books that accompanied his exhibits ‘Post-Human’ and ‘Artificial Nature’ were among the first to introduce he concept of a visual essay.”

The mogul-heavy MOCA board’s choice of a leader from outside of the usual museum director breeding grounds (other museums, academia) has some raising their eyebrows, but it’s worth remembering that MOCA has some history of blending realms, notably in its 2007 Takashi Murakami retrospective, which was funded in part by galleries representing the artist and encompassed a Louis Vuitton boutique that sold Murakami-designed handbags and trinkets (limited-edition, of course). “Jeffrey lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes art,” said Maria Bell, co-chair of the MOCA board of trustees. “He is passionate about contemporary art and is committed to the future of MOCA.” And he has his work cut out for him. Said Deitch in a statement issued yesterday, “It’s my goal to position MOCA as the most innovative and influential contemporary art museum in the world.”

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