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James Franco is having a tough time right now. His Indiegogo fundraiser for Palo Alto Stories, which comprises three individual films drawn from his high school experiences, doesn’t look like it will reach its $500,000 goal (only 12 hours left!), but the actor/artist/fundraiser/heart throb is also upset that former Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) director Jeffrey Deitch is leaving the institution and perhaps the city.

The actor’s Instagram and Twitterfeed made it known to the world that JF is not happy with the news or, as a matter of fact,  LA. Considering the photo, a black-and-white image of Franco and Deitch in conversation, has over 14,000 likes, there appears to be a lot of people who agree … or maybe they just think Franco looks cute in the pic.

James Franco and his team aren’t the only bold-faced names pining about Deitch’s departure: Jesse Dylan, son of musician Bob Dylan, created a short video that celebrates Deitch in a rather hyperbolic way — it’s titled “Dylan on Deitch: Reinventing the Experience of Art.”

How exactly did Deitch’s reinvent the art experience? The video doesn’t really say. It also tackles why his tenure at MOCA wasn’t successful, and Deitch appears to place the blame on an art community unhappy with an audience that doesn’t differentiate between pop culture and contemporary art.

“Do I understand the reason for the controversy? I understand there are many people in the artist community who see art moving very quickly — who see this new audience that doesn’t differentiate so much whether the artist is John Baldessari or Michel Gondry,” Deitch says in the video.

What is next for Deitch? I, for one, can’t wait to find out, even if I don’t agree with him that Dennis Hopper represents “the great vanguard” of Los Angeles culture.

h/t @godVeveryone

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

8 replies on “James Franco Is Real Sad About Jeffrey Deitch and Mad at LA”

  1. unfortunately, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. not only do they not differentiate, but they don’t even care to. but can you really blame them, the audience? pop culture and all of its bastard children, i.e., reality shows, faux celebrities, the corporatization of the art/music/literary/fashion scenes are constantly being shoved in our faces. plain and simply put, it’s total sensory overload.

    on top of that, I can’t feel too sorry for a multimillionaire actor-cum-artistic-explorer who’s whining about an art museum head leaving his post. those directors have museum patrons and overlords of their own to deal with and sometimes you’ve just got to walk away and find your own peace. trying to satisfy everyone is a no-win situation.

    as usual, Franco’s intentions are honorable, but I’m already pretty much over funding everyone else’s creative whims – hell, I can’t even afford my own.

    1. if one makes museums more and more like what we see on TV then people may simply opt to just stay home and watch it there.

  2. He says “the best art, reinvents art for each generation” but the title of the video title states that he is reinventing the experience of art. It is difficult how we celebrate or accredit those who run art institutions because we need to believe that artists are the ones making the experience during the experience itself. Evaluating the work of an administrator is messy.

  3. Scholarship, education and understanding of the “profession” of art, its past course, its issues, context etc. is the responsibility of a Museum Director ( e.g.Walter Hopps). To elevate the discussion, to make the “art” relevant to furthering that discussion to a higher level. Value beyond economics. An eye beyond public preference.The sentiments in the video are valid, the premise that what is popular is best is interesting, while it challenges our past expectations of museums and art, of culling out the best and brightest of current ideas and issues. MOCA, as pointed out with Deitch at the helm, became an ingredient in the cultural soup with less clarity and purpose. Without curators or an education department it became a meeting place, not a clarifying one for insights. Interesting that most all images of”art” were historical in nature.

    1. Yes this is all true. We will never know what fully happened in LA as the museum was in a great deal of trouble before Deitch. Like Detroit it was on the verge of closing . I don’t know if he was able to help financially stabilize the museum. There appears to be a museum for Deitch to leave, hopefully it will remain so. If this is the case then it seems that his primary goal was to keep the museum open was accomplished. Although I have not seen the shows that Deitch put on, l can imagine that Kenneth Anger was interesting and controversial. From what I have heard the other show which defined Deitch’s tenure was also controversial (the one with James Franco), it was so terrible that it inspired Deitch’s expulsion . So much for James Franco’s dreams of a mid-career retrospective in LA. As for a museum with out an education department it can be done but is unimaginable, it’s an action that redefines the paradigm. Walter Hopps and Jeffrey Deitch provide an interesting comparison. Walter Hopps had shows that appeared to be financially disastrous but were compelling and ultimately financially successful, Ed Ruscha and Ed Kienholz are examples. Deitch as with his video , has been defined by the absence of his presence. Deitch on his roots in being a private dealer as well as managing CitiBank’s collection before he opened Deitch Projects. I can never forget nor forgive his appropriation of Warhol’s Brillo Box lettering for his signage and stationary. Warhol was both a good friend and a mentor to the fledgling Deitch . Deitch’s appropriation of Warhol’s appropriation though clever, is irritating none the less. Citigroup Warhol, Deitch does have impeccable credentials for the Art World Courtier Class as well as being a leading light.

      1. Apelles1 “As for a museum with out an education department it can be done but is unimaginable, it’s an action that redefines the paradigm.” Yes, so it is not advisable to devalue and do away with it as MOCA, the Getty and other museum’s seem to feel they can and have.The education department is as important as the curatorial in that it allows the public access and a broader understanding of the museum presentations, involvement in the discussions and a bridge to the greater community on the whole. Education is involved in offerings to all ages not just the young with programs like CAS at MOCA.Where are the future generations of citizens going to receive an art education to better understand and fully engage in the experience? Public schools? Art appreciation is not a given. One of the main purposes of Deitch was to democratize the exhibits with broader based themes to increase the attendance. Who needs scholarship? This lead to the exiting of Schimmel in favor of a Franco strategy believing no one would notice the difference. Art Education allows the community to participate in the discussion, elevate their awareness and then, as adults, bring their children to museums and share an experience,not just to another venue with a spectator sport. If museums are to be relevant in the future they need education departments to complement their curatorial ones. Art Education gives democratization to the museum.
        This allows us to notice Deitch’s appropriation of “Warhol’s Brillo Boxes” ( originally appropriated by Warhol from Brillo) for his stationary and signage. Art education allows us a greater visual awareness and therefore a better quality of life in whatever field we choose.

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