Calligraffiti: Graffiti meets calligraphy meets Jeffrey Deitch (again)

September 5th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
El Seed

El Seed

Tonight is opening night for Calligraffiti: 1984-2013 at the Leila Heller Gallery. The show is interesting for two reasons:

  1. It examines connections between graffiti and calligraphy at a fancy gallery. Seriously though, this should be really fascinating. There will be work by El Seed, L’ATLAS, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, LA2, ROSTARR, Niels “Shoe” Meulman, Ramellzee and many more artists (including many with no history on the street or with graffiti, but rather with feet firmly rooted in more traditional modern and contemporary art).
  2. It marks the return of Jeffrey Deitch to New York City, basically. He didn’t curate the show, but he did curate a version of the show at the same gallery back in 1984, and the New York Times reports “Mr. Deitch served as Ms. Heller’s sounding board” for this version of the show. Deitch recently resigned as Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles after growing the museum’s endowment from under $10 million to almost $100 million, although it seems as though he is staying on at the museum just a little while longer, through the completion of that goal of reaching a $100 million endowment and the process of finding a new Director.

Photo by Public Art (QMA)

Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Deitch did the right thing in a crappy situation

December 14th, 2010 | By | 29 Comments »

I’m about to get my virtual ass kicked with this post. This might get more negative comments than anything I’ve ever written before. I know that. Any yet, here I am.

On Thursday, word hit the internet that Blu had painted a mural on The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in LA but that it had been whitewashed. On Saturday, Vandalog was the first site to publish any official comments from MOCA. And late on Monday, The LA Times has finally published some substantive comments from museum director Jeffrey Deitch about the whole series of events.

Here’s a selection from the article:

Reached by phone while traveling, MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch confirmed that he made the decision because the mural was “insensitive” to the community.

“This is 100% about my effort to be a good, responsible, respectful neighbor in this historic community,” Deitch said. “Out of respect for someone who is suffering from lung cancer, you don’t sit in front of them and start chain smoking.

“Look at my gallery website — I have supported protest art more than just about any other mainstream gallery in the country,” he added. “But as a steward of a public institution, I have to balance a different set of priorities — standing up for artists and also considering the sensitivities of the community.”

He rejects the talk of censorship. “This doesn’t compare to David Wojnarowicz. This shouldn’t be blown up into something larger than it is,” he says, describing a curator’s prerogative to pick and choose what goes into a show. “Every aspect of the show involves a very considered discussion.”

The unfortunate thing, he acknowledges, was the timing, as the artist began the mural while Deitch was out of town earlier this month for the art fair in Miami. “Blu was supposed to fly out the second-to-last week in November, so we could have conversations about it in advance,” Deitch said. “But he said he had to change his flights, so he ended up working in isolation without any input.”

When he returned from Miami and saw the mural, then more than halfway completed, Deitch said he made the decision to remove it very quickly, unprompted by complaints. “There were zero complaints, because I took care of it right away.” He asked Blu to finish the work so it could be documented as part of the exhibition and appear in the accompanying catalog.

I’ve got to stand by Deitch 100% on this. Besides the very legitimate reasons he mentions for removing the mural, his appointment to MOCA was a very controversial one. We don’t live in a perfect world, and this was a pragmatic move which takes into consideration the larger concerns of MOCA and the LA community. Yes, this whole thing was a poorly managed series of unfortunate events resulting in a great artist’s work being destroyed (after, what I assume was extensive documentation which is how the vast majority of street art and probably art in general is viewed these days), but Deitch made the right move for the wider museum. Things shouldn’t have gotten out of hand, and they did, but Deitch has acknowledged that. Look at the situation from Deitch’s perspective when he showed up in LA to a half-finished mural that he knew would not work.

Deitch made a curatorial, respectful (of the LA community) and politically pragmatic decision to remove a work from an exhibition that he had not approved for inclusion in the show. If he had seen a sketch beforehand (as he should have), let the wall get painted and then removed it, this would be a very different discussion. Although some have suggested that this signals disaster ahead for his upcoming street art exhibition in April, I am not so sure. Sebastian at Unurth and I have a friendly bet going based on the average of reviews of MOCA’s street art show in the LA Times, Unurth and Vandalog: If the reviews are positive, he buys drinks next time we see each other and if the reviews are negative, I have to buy the drinks. So we’ll see how that turns out in a couple of months.

Photo by vmiramontes

Category: Art News, Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , ,

Jeffrey Deitch’s street art show at MOCA LA

September 15th, 2010 | By | 1 Comment »

One of Jenny Holzer's Inflammatory Essays. She had better be in this show if it's to be any good

A few months ago, this was mentioned briefly in an NYTimes article, but now the first real information is starting to come out about Jeffrey Deitch’s upcoming street art show at MOCA in LA. Culture Monster has a post all about the show, Art in the Streets. I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about this event for a while, but it’s all been rumors, so it’s nice to finally get some facts to write about.

Deitch says that Art in the Streets aims to be a broad look at street art, but will also dig deep into the history of outdoor art. That sounds like music to my ears, but it also sounds like a nearly insurmountable challenge. For example, the show will certainly involve graffiti, but so much graffiti had localized differences that now influence modern street artists and writers. So where do you draw the line at what to include? And what about the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, created to eradicate graffiti? It’s not street art, but it might deserve a place in a show titled Art in the Streets… Anyway, I’m sure we’ll know more in a few weeks when a formalized press release is sent out.

In the mean time, here’s what else is known…

  • Art in the Streets opens April 2011 at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary
  • The show will include work from the last few years as well as art from as long ago as the 1970’s, which seems about right.
  • There will be around 25 artists doing installations/murals.
  • Banksy will be involved, so yeah. That’s interesting I guess… I’m not his biggest fan lately, so it’s hard for me to get excited about that.
  • Over 100 artists will be represented in the show.
  • Aaron Rose (from Alleged Gallery/the Beautiful Losers film) and all-around graffiti and street art expert Roger Gastman are helping to curate the show.

This show could be the best thing to happen to street art since… ever. But even if it’s not perfect, it’s still going to be pretty damn good. Deitch isn’t going to screw this up. He, Rose and Gastman all know their shit.

Photo by Lord Jim

Category: Art News, Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , ,

The Rumor Mill: Deitch planning street art show at MOCA LA?

July 6th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Jeffrey Deitch and Aiko Nakagawa

This is about a week old now, but I’ve just seen that the NYTimes has done an article on Jeffrey Deitch and his transition from running his Deitch Projects gallery to now being the director of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Of course, the article is mostly about how Deitch is handling that transition and why his move from running a gallery to running a museum is so unique. Okay. Nothing new here. People have been talking about that transition for months.

There was one particularly interesting sentence though: “And he is working to put together a major exhibition about the influence of street art, a movement that was central to the identity of Deitch Projects in recent years.”

Of course, I’d heard plenty of speculation that something like that would happen, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it confirmed and stated as fact. Awesome. There probably isn’t anyone in the world better positioned than Jeffrey Deitch to put on a major street art exhibition in a major museum. Sounds like this is still the early days of planning, so maybe the show is a long time away and maybe it won’t end up happening, but at least we now know that it might happen and that Deitch would like it to.

Photo by sabeth718

Category: Art News | Tags: ,

Beyond the Street Book Signing At Deitch

May 23rd, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Gestalten and Jeffrey Deitch cordially invite you to the special presentation of the book Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art.

Reception: Thursday, May 27th, 6 – 8 pm

Deitch Projects
18 Wooster Street
New York, NY  10013

Kindly RSVP by May 26th,

Read the rest of this article »

Category: Books / Magazines

On Jeffrey Deitch and street art

April 11th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Hrag Vartanian has a must-read post on Hyperallergic this week. It’s titled “The Emergence of Real Pop Art: Jeffrey Deitch & Street Art” and raises some interesting questions about the nature of street art within the “art world” and Deitch’s role in getting street art to where it is today. I certainly don’t agree with everything he has to say (particularly regarding Deitch’s role in the street art world), but it’s one of the most interesting blog posts I’ve read in a while.

Category: Featured Posts, Random | Tags:

Kathy Grayson to open gallery post-Deitch

March 12th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

According to Artinfo, Kathy Grayson, the current director of Deitch Project space on Wooster Street, plans to open her own gallery after Deitch Projects closes later this year (Jeffrey Deitch is closing the gallery to become director of MOCA in LA). Deitch is such a unique space that it’s probably too early to say exactly what this means, but Grayson has already said that she plans to bring some of the staff from Deitch Projects with her. Also, she is hoping to open the space with a show with Todd James, Barry McGee and Steve Powers (much like the Street Market show at Deitch Projects in 2000), which would be just plain awesome. Unfortunately, it sounds like Swoon and Os Gêmeos could be less welcome at her gallery.

Check out the full artist on Artinfo

Category: Art News, Featured Posts | Tags: ,

Jeffrey Deitch named director of MOCA

January 11th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

UPDATE: Jerry Saltz reports on his facebook account that “LA MoCA just announced that Jeffrey Deitch is their new Director. He begins June 1. He will soon close his gallery.” So I guess that answers that question. No more Deitch Projects.

As anticipated, The LA Times reports that Jeffrey Deitch has been named as the new director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA. The nomination is a controversial one primarily because Deitch’s background is as a commercial art dealer, while traditionally the post would be filled by somebody who has worked in museums for most of their career. Also, there is the question of what will happen to Deitch’s gallery, Deitch Projects, and what role he will play in the gallery’s future.

I for one am ecstatic about this news. Deitch has been associated with many great street artists like Shepard Fairey, Keith Haring and Barry McGee, so perhaps this new position will allow Deitch to bring some of those artists into MOCA’s collection.

So, congratulations to Jeffrey Deitch on this new job. I hope that he is able to breath a new life into MOCA and bring it back from the edge of bankruptcy (okay, to be fair it was in 2008 that the museum was almost bankrupt, but it certainly isn’t in a strong position today).

Category: Art News, Featured Posts | Tags:

The Deitch Projects booth at Basel Miami

January 6th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

I did not spend nearly enough time at Basel Miami this year, but I did have a chance to stop by the Deitch Projects booth, because they are amazing. Here’s some of what I saw (though I think one of those Keith Haring pieces is from another gallery):

Video from Babelgum

Category: Videos | Tags: , , ,

Blu paints Deitch Studios

September 29th, 2009 | By | No Comments »

Just in case you needed a reason to visit New York City…

BLU in New York from Charles le Brigand on Vimeo.

Via Arrested Motion

Category: Videos | Tags: ,