Monday, November 15, 2010

A New Boss, and a Jolt of Real-World Expertise

In another article written on January 11th of this year by Roberta Smith titled 'A New Boss, and a Jolt of Real-World Expertise', Smith examines Jeffrey Deitch's current position as the latest director of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Before this well-known art dealer was hired for the job, the museum was not doing well. It was nearly about to fold and sell off until it was donated $30 million from a former chairman of the board named Eli Broad. Competitors were fairing better with their fresh, new directors, so the Contemporary Art museum finally took a hint and Deitch became director. Deitch has a lot of experience in the art world due to his former trade as an art dealer, so whereas he might not have as much experience as an administrator of a museum, he still has plenty of experience in dealing with art, artists, and business. Smith seems to believe that Deitch is fit for the task, as she continues to defend the new director for his experience with writing, organizing, collaborating, and vision. She mentions why his position faces criticism, mainly due to his lack of experience for this particular task. Still, Smith believes that the museum made the right choice in choosing someone like Deitch to change its dying image.

I've heard about this before, last semester. I read about him a bit more after reading this article since the article is a year old and I'm curious as to how he might have helped if he did. I'm still wondering why it gets so much attention. Isn't it beneficial to have someone with art dealing expertise run a museum? From what Smith had to say, it seems as if Deitch isn't guilty of anything except lacking a little experience. Nobody is /born/ with experience. He has to get some somehow. It's like applying for jobs that require you have previous work experience, but it's nothing someone who dropped out of high school couldn't do, so you can't just get experience from that job because nobody else hired you for likely the same reason. Or something like that. Deitch did give up his private galleries and such after taking the job. I believe someone who has worked with many artists is most fitting for the task he's been given. He wasn't bad at what he was doing either. He had enough professionalism about him to get noticed in the first place. The museum made a move, and they're doing fine now, whereas before they were in debt up to their eyeballs and fading fast. If anything though, wasn't it a brilliant bout of publicity to hire the guy? Even if it's a risk, the spotlight turned to the MOCA and hasn't died down since. People are curious about what this new, possibly outrageous museum director has to offer. People are going to read those articles in the Times and remember the name. But I wonder if hiring an art dealer as the museum director is such a big deal, then what sort of attention would a contemporary artist hired for the task attract? I'm not talking about something completely far-fetched. I mean what if this artist has a lot of business experience, has worked and collaborated with other artists, has written criticisms, and pretty much has done everything that Deitch has done, only being better known as an artist than an art dealer? It seems like Deitch alone has brought life back to the MOCA, whether or not he's had years of experience.

I'm not entirely sure how to apply this to my work. I suppose if directors have any say in what ends up in their museums, my work may or might not ever be in one. I'm still stuck on the idea that art goes to a museum to die. Not that it'd have any less value to me if I go there, but ever since that thought was pitched to me, I can't help but imagine works in a museum being preserved in that nasty smelling substance the biology labs would smell of on dissection days. But maybe a guy like Deitch, who apparent is capable of bring a new vision to an old museum, could change that. I only think it's appropriate that they bring such a guy to a contemporary art museum. It keeps the work there fresher--frozen rather than packed in a jar.

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