LOS ANGELES (AP) – Jeffrey Deitch, the sometimes controversial director of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, announced Wednesday he is resigning.
Deitch made the announcement at a meeting of his board of directors, adding he plans to stay on until an ambitious campaign to raise MOCA’s endowment from $20 million to $100 million is completed. That’s expected to happen this fall.
In the meantime, the board formed a committee to look for a successor.
“As colleagues, friends and great admirers of Jeffrey’s talent, we respect his decision and thank him for his tremendous dedication to the museum and all those who value MOCA,” David G. Johnson, co-chairman of the board, said in a statement released by MOCA.
The announcement was not surprising. Although Johnson hailed Deitch for helping “solidify MOCA’s financial stability while changing the way Angelenos, and those around the world, engage with contemporary art,” the director had come under sometimes withering criticism since his arrival in 2010.
His signature achievement, the museum’s “Art in The Streets” show, featuring the works of Banksy, Shepard Fairey and other graffiti artists, drew record crowds in 2011. But other exhibitions, including one featuring the works of actor Dennis Hopper and another curated by actor James Franco, were dismissed as lowbrow.
He also alienated some in the art community with last year’s dismissal of longtime MOCA curator Paul Schimmel. The action prompted Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and other prominent artists to resign from MOCA’s board.
Deitch was a surprise choice to some when he was hired in 2010. As the operator of Deitch Projects, he was a prominent New York gallery owner and consultant to collectors, but hadn’t worked in museums.
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