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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.