Yesterday, artist John Baldessari resigned his post on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art. In the Los Angeles Times, Baldessari is quoted as saying he had to do it “to live with my conscience.” Baldessari is the fifth board member to resign from the museum this year.
What’s gotten Baldessari and others in the art community riled up is the recent ouster – or resignation, depending on who you believe - of long-time chief curator Paul Schimmel by MOCA’s board. Schimmel’s expert curating resulted in some of the museum’s most important exhibitions and acquisitions over the years. But his meticulous, old-school approach is said to have clashed with that of new director Jeffrey Deitch, who leans toward celebrity-driven pop-culture exhibitions like one recently helmed by guest curator James Franco, and the upcoming show on disco music’s cultural influence.
MOCA has already lost several curators and doesn’t seem in a hurry to replace them. Is this a sign of more turbulence ahead for the museum – or a fresh, new direction? Could Baldessari’s exit be one more of many? Have you enjoyed MOCA’s recent exhibits? Is the museum in danger of losing its standing in the contemporary art world?
Christopher Knight, chief art critic for the Los Angeles Times