LA’s MOCA Loses the Last of Its Artist Trustees

by Jillian Steinhauer on July 16, 2012

Eli Broad as Dr. Evil

Eli Broad is … (image by Zach Alan)

Artist Ed Ruscha has left the board of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), following the departures last week of John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger and Catherine Opie. The last artist on the board has left the building.

All of the departures come in the wake of the controversial firing resignation forced resignation (?!) of the museum’s longtime chief curator, Paul Schimmel. In speaking about their decisions to leave, Baldessari, Kruger and Opie have all mentioned their dismay at not being consulted about or even informed of Schimmel’s dismissal. Kruger and Opie wrote a joint letter of resignation to MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, in which they questioned their place, and the place of artists in general, on the museum’s board:

It has been an honor to serve on the Board. Artists and curators have long been the driving force that have made MOCA the esteemed and powerfully present Museum that it is. And the artist’s presence is felt not only in its great exhibition program and unrivaled collection, but on its Board. But now we wonder if our position on the Board is just symbolic and that our ability to be heard and to suggest and make change has become a kind of inconvenience to the instrumental workings of the Board.

Christopher Knight elaborated on the role artists have played at MOCA in a piece in today’s LA Times, explaining that the museum was actually founded by artists, a group surrounding painter Sam Francis. Knight writes:

Certainly no institution comes into being or grows into an entity of international stature without a host of important contributing parties. But artists reside at the core of MOCA’s being. They’re the soul inside what sometimes seems to be a soulless institutional life.

Details of Ruscha’s exit from the board are still vague, as he is traveling abroad and the news came via a Facebook post from the artist’s wife, Danna Ruscha, on Christopher Knight’s wall, underneath a link to the aforementioned essay. “‎Christopher Knight, Ed has resigned. I guess they haven’t announced it yet,” she wrote.

We contacted MOCA to ask about the string of departures but haven’t received a response. It remains to be seen if Eli Broad — we mean, the MOCA board — will bring on new artists to replace the others.

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  • Guest

    yes, but the question now is: will Baldessari, Kruger, Opie, Ruscha and Schimmel band together to create their own “LEAGUE OF JUSTICE” to fight the evil Broad / Deitch alliance? tune in next week for the continuing story of “AS THE MOCA CHURNS”

  • Guest

    I just keep cracking myself up imagining whoever’s playing Frau Farbissina in all this, yelling “DEITCH !!!”

  • Robert Boyd

    This could be Shepard Fairey’s big chance to get on the board!

    • Den Hickey

      He is one of the few successful mid or late career artists ambitious and morally bankrupt enough to join up.

  • izmonk

    Feel so disgusted about MOCA. New York artists created Deitch. This is our legacy: irrelevance and greed. Nothing more to show for our generation, not a single important movement or original vision. Just a bunch of proto-etsy product. Fuck us.

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