MOCA street art show book (and a small rant about the show)

Art In the Streets is an upcoming book by Jeffrey Deitch, Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose. The book, available April 12th, coincides with Deitch’s street art exhibition coming to MOCA next spring (Rose and Gastman are involved in putting the show together). While this will probably be just another nice exhibition catalog once it’s published, the official does provide further insight into what the MOCA show will be about (emphasis added):

The first large-scale American museum exhibition to survey the colorful history of graffiti and street art movements internationally. Graffiti has been a form of public communication and identification since ancient times. In its contemporary manifestation, it has redefined the urban landscape and influenced generations of artists. This landmark exhibition traces the birth and dissemination of styles through “writers” and street artists around the world—including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Blu, Martha Cooper, Shepard Fairey, Stelios Faitakis, Futura, Phil Frost, Os Gêmeos, Keith Haring, Todd James (REAS), Margaret Kilgallen, Lady Pink, Barry McGee (Twist), Steve Powers (ESPO), Lee Quinones, Retna, Kenny Scharf, Swoon, and Ed Templeton, among many others—focusing on New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, as well as international locations. Highlighting the connection between graffiti and street art and other vibrant subcultures, such as those that developed around Hip Hop in the Bronx and skateboarding in Southern California, Art in the Streets explores parallel movements in dance and music. A selection of new works created for the show is presented alongside the historical survey of approximately 30 of the most important artists seminal to the genre. The exhibition is curated by MoCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, working with a curatorial advisory committee that includes Charlie Ahearn, Roger Gastman, Carlo McCormick, and Aaron Rose.

It’s interesting to see the direction this exhibition is taking with the choice of artists, but a bit predictable as well:

  • Aaron Rose is best-known for Alleged Gallery and Beautiful Losers, the film about that gallery, and Deitch Projects picked up a number of artists who had been showing at Alleged Gallery (Steve Powers, Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen), and a number of the “Beautiful Losers” are included in Art In The Streets.
  • A number of the artists (Martha Cooper, Futura, Barry McGee, Shepard Fairey, Stelios Faitakis, Os Gêmeos, Kenny Scharf and Swoon if memory serves) were all involved in last year’s Deitch-curated Wynwood Walls mural project.
  • Blu painted a mural sponsored by Deitch Projects.
  • Deitch Projects also work with Basquiat, Fairey, Os Gêmeos, Haring, Todd James, Scharf and Swoon (or their estates).

People are going to give MOCA shit for this, but you know what… It’s probably gonna be a good exhibition. Obviously it’s not exactly the show that myself or anyone else would have put together, but Deitch and his curatorial committee have good taste. Of course there’s going to have been some financial ties to the artists they select. If that weren’t the case, the show would have been woefully incomplete. Deitch Projects and Alleged Gallery both worked with some of the best artists associated with street art and graffiti. I can hardly imagine a stronger team putting together Art In The Streets, and I hope that, when this opens, people can look past potential conflicts of interests and just appreciate the show on its own merits.

Photo courtesy of Rizzoli