News that NYC art dealer Jeffrey Deitch would be assuming the helm over at LA’s beleaguered MOCA seems to have been mostly accepted by now in the Art World. Some, however, have wondered whether there might be a genuine conflict of interest given that Deitch’s power in selecting artists and/or curators for future MOCA shows will certainly provoke cynicism and cries of impropriety.
Eli Broad attempted a mild pooh-poohing of that suspicion, apparently believing that we only need to take his word for it:
“In announcing the selection, Mr. Broad sought to distinguish Mr. Deitch from other commercial gallery owners. ‘He’s hardly a dealer like Larry Gagosian,’ he said, referring to the gallery owner widely considered one of the most successful in the world. ‘Jeffrey’s done national and international exhibitions. It was always clear he was never in it just for the money.’”(1)
But it might be a nice side benefit, yes? I can’t help recalling what my old friend Ananda Coomaraswamy had to say about museums that show the work of living artists:
“It is unnecessary for Museums to exhibit the works of living artists, which are not in imminent danger of destruction; or at least, if such works are exhibited, it should be clearly understood that the Museum is really advertising the artist and acting on behalf of the art dealer or middleman whose business it is to find a market for the artist; the only difference being that while the Museum does the same sort of work as the dealer, it makes no profit.”(2)
Let’s see how that goes with Mr. Deitch and MOCA.
2. Coomaraswamy, Ananda. Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art, New York, 1956, 7.