Bunker Hill, The Castle, 1965, by William Reagh. See many more pics of this L.A. photographer’s work atKCET Artbound.
A good friend likes to joke that one day a room full of hedge fund managers are going to be sitting around drinking single malts, and one of them will talk about some painting he’s just bought, and another will say, “Oh, you’re still collecting art?” And at that moment the entire art market will simply evaporate. This essay about Steve Cohen in n+1 isn’t that story. But it’s close.
I’ve been having gnarly loading issues with the blog, which is why the site has been disappeared. Still trying to figure out the cause. In the meantime, some of my widgets have been disabled (like Facebook and Twitter buttons) while I figure out what the hell went wrong…
In the meantime, find Miscellany 01.07.13 over on my Tumblr.
Iar II, a wood sculpture by Joaquin Ortega, in collaboration with Nayra Pérez Pimienta.(Image courtesy of Ortega.)
Deep thoughts from a 15-year-old about why museums suck: “The Getty has art of naked people all over the place; naked people on horses, naked men wearing helmets, naked women on rocks, a naked woman with a piece of cloth across her lap—they were pretty graphic sculptures. I don’t get it, why would a naked man wear a protective helmet when he should be protecting something more important?” (@ranjit.)
“Good critics are expensive. I am expensive. Academics work for free to get tenure, and, since they are worried about the approval of their colleagues, they are fearful of making value judgments. Also, most of my peers and contemporaries learned how to write magazine journalism. We know how to do a transition, we know how to do a lead, we know what a hook is, and we’re literate. Most critics today come out of art academia, where they don’t even understand the future-imperfect tense.” — Dave Hickey, in an intriguing-interesting, all kinds of rambly Q&A about the good ‘ol days, when the art world was a super-great Wild West run by 12 white guys.
Ai Weiwei makes a Gangnam Style parody. Chinese censors block it.
An essay by A.A. Gill on how the Michelin Guide killed food: “Food writing is already the recidivist culprit of multiple sins against both language and digestion, but the little encomiums of the Michelin guide effortlessly lick the bottom of the descriptive swill bucket.”
MOCA Mess: Mess Harder
Unless you are plugged into the mainframe 24-7, it’s hard to keep up with all of the developments at MOCA. Principally, what you need to know is this: esteemed curator Paul Schimmel is still a goner. All the artists on the board (Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, John Baldessari and Catherine Opie) have quit over Schimmel’s ‘resignation.’ (Read the Kruger/Opie letter here.) Museum director Jeffrey Deitch finally got around to speaking to the press, but spent the conversation defending himself rather than articulating a long-term vision for the museum. He also posted a notice about his commitment to promoting MOCA’s legacy on the museum’s blog.
Naturally, it’s time to cue the Greek chorus. Christopher Knight says the museum has OD’d on the ghost of Andy Warhol. Roberta Smith gives Deitch a scolding and offers her regrets for originally supporting the idea of Deitch as director. Culture Grrl says, “I told you so.” Even I’ve been in on the shit show. I appeared briefly on KCRW’s Which Way L.A. to discuss Deitch’s place in the NYC gallery ecosystem. (For the record: I was not having a terribly articulate day. Thankfully the other guests all contribute smart points.) The pièce de resistance came at the end of last week, when former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young sent a memo to Eli Broad saying it was time to can Deitch.
Some people (including Aaron Rose) have pitched this as a battle between a new generation that embraces pop culture and a stuffy old one that simply doesn’t ‘get’ stuff like graffiti. I think this is a mistake. Plenty of young artists have taken issue with the way that MOCA is being run. I, for one, have a deep appreciation of graffiti. But Art in the Streets did little to explore the subject in deep and meaningful ways. The whole Deitch debate isn’t a question about old guard versus avant-garde. It’s about wanting a public institution that is more than blockbusters and attendance figures and scene-y openings. Finances may be important to a museum, but museums aren’t a financial proposition. It’s the difference between running a Barnes & Noble and running a library. One is a place that sells books. The other is a repository of knowledge.
That said, I think it can be easy to turn Deitch into a whipping boy. I wasn’t necessarily against his hire. He’s a savvy guy. And lord knows plenty of people get hired for jobs for which they aren’t innately qualified (such as me). But a big part of this mess rests with the board. As in: where the fuck are they? Where is their commitment (financial and otherwise) to this institution? Is anyone gonna strap on a pair, lay down some cash, and challenge Eli Broad? And why are the people who led MOCA into the financial hole to begin with still in charge? Isn’t it more than a little weird that the two guys who ran this hot mess back in 2008 — David Johnson and Tom Unterman — are still there? The former as a co-chair, the latter as a life trustee?
Sure, you can fire Jeffrey Deitch. Hell, fire him ten times over if you want. But it doesn’t seem as if that will even begin to take care of the real problem.
A very belated congratulations to Joerg Colberg on the 10th anniversary of his contemporary photography blog, Conscientious. Hope to be reading it for another ten. (Such as this essay on photography’s current stasis.)
A study by the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center concludes that the U.S. built too many cultural centers during the boom years.
A cover image from Jim Linderman’s collection of VEA, a Mexican pinup magazine from the 1950s. (Dull Tool Dim Bulb.)
The MOCA Mess
Good lord, this one is a doozy. L.A.’s MOCA has canned its best curator — Paul Schimmel, the dude who pretty much put the museum on the map — in a series of telenovela-esque machinations that should be accompanied by bad organ music. After seemingly being caught totally flat-footed on the PR front, the museum said the firing (er, ‘resignation’) was the board’s decision — even though curator firings are typically the work of the museum’s director (who in this case is former gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, who is remaining mum). Then, the one non-voting member of the board, who happens to be an incredibly powerful rich guy, writes a big op-ed about it, saying the museum just needs to be more populist. (‘Cuz what L.A. really needs is more barely-thought-out, mass market entertainment.) In the meantime, as Christopher Knight points out, the museum remains in the pooper financially and is now headed into the pooper aesthetically. The biggest loser in all of this? Us.
Sorta related: tied to MOCA’s fascinating show on land art, William Poundstone explores the origins of the form. He says it started with Fluxus.
Christopher Hawthorne has an interesting essay on how Michael Govan is remaking the LACMA campus at an architectural level — with very big art.
Welcome to my new timesuck: the ICAA and the MFAH in Houston have put all kinds of tasty Latin American art documents online. (@tylergreendc.)
Wish I was going to be in Peru in time to see this: A group of artists is going to be painting murals at Cerro de Pasco, a polluted, high-altitude town that sits alongside an open-pit mine producing zinc and silver. The mining company is trying to relocate the city (which has more than 100,000 residents) so that it can expand its operations.
Speaking of which: the organizers of the Cerro de Pasco event should invite Elliot Urcuhuaranga. His stuff is beautiful.