Jeffrey Deitch

Director of LA MOCA

Few museum appointments can have produced as much debate as the hiring of longtime New York gallerist and art impresario Deitch to the top position at LA MOCA. Why the surprise? If your entire art career has been about serving the interests of a particular group of artists and a particular group of collectors, can you really acquire overnight the disinterest that most people expect a museum director to pretend to have? But as those groups include the kind of people he’ll be asking to donate money to his new institution, there’s a certain logic to it all.

Deitch’s energetic presence and savvy (an attentiongrabbing collaboration with actor James Franco, for example) are probably what the ailing MOCA needs right now: nearbankrupt after financial mismanagement and the credit-crunch caught up with it, MOCA was bailed out by a $30m donation plan from billionaire MOCA trustee Eli Broad.

Deitch’s appointment probably won’t appease those who worry that Broad is too dominant on the LA art scene, or the artists who wonder why this museum director is hanging out with actors instead of seeing what’s happening in their studios, but when you’re on your knees, it’s hard to be too demanding. If Deitch makes a success of this, it may become a model other museums will want to follow.