IS a commercial dealer the right choice for a museum, I asked dealers from around the city. And how will Jeffrey Deitch's departure for LA MOCA affect New York?
PAULA COOPER OPENED THE FIRST SOHO GALLERY: :
"It's unusual, but you have a museum director moving to an auction house, so things have loosened up a bit. Museums also face more economic difficulties, and that affects their choices. Why would there be any impact? Its closing might affect a few of the artists, but Deitch was too small a niche, and there are too many galleries."
LEAH STUHLTRAGER IS DIRECTOR OF DAM, STUHLTRAGER, THE WILLIAMSBURG GALLERY CELEBRATING ITS NEW BRANCH IN BERLIN:
"I'm not shocked that LA MOCA, which widely promoted and wildly profited from Lady Gaga as its 30th anniversary gala guest, would cast Deitch in role of director. Why would anyone expect LA MOCA to untangle its definitions of "commercial" and "museum" rather than personify them? The arts scene is such a wondrous whore. New York will find another to cover her outrageous rent, pay for her fancy dinners, and drape her in the finest fashions. She'll remember Deitch through snapshots and at parties as someone bigger than she could keep as hers alone. That's all any of us can ask. Deitch need not worry about New York in his leap across states, nor should his move matter to New York. New York is ours to hold — even if just long enough to get a decent picture and a wider view."
ELIZABETH DEE HAS A DUAL PERSPECTIVE, FROM HER CHELSEA GALLERY AND AS A FORCE BEHIND THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT X-INITIATIVE:
"It's an exciting announcement. It provides further evidence of a shift in attitudes from oversimplifying the role that gallerists can have. MOCA needs a major financial turnaround. I would rebuild the board, make it as international as possible, and create a careful distance from the interests of Eli Broad. I'd also buy Michael Govan lunch. It will be good for the legacy of Deitch Projects if it closes. It will be part of the history of the downtown art scene. If it continues under different leadership, it will have a different role and complexion. We shall see."
MADDY ROSENBERG IS A DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL BOOKING IN DUMBO, FEATURING ARTIST BOOKS ALONGSIDE OTHER MEDIA:
"Can we just go back to PhDs rather than MBAs as museum directors? Not that one needs academic credentials, but someone who has actually spent a life in the scholarly pursuit of art might have a legacy to leave. Museums have to be interested in art that doesn't count on the bottom line. They are investing in the cultural future, not building up artists for investment killings. People are hungry for it. They are seeking freshness, rather than institutionalized, empty art. Artists are still making art. Wouldn't it be interesting if we focused on their vision? I do think the New York art world will survive without him. There are those who make their mark, but dealers come and go, and no one's indispensable. The art world is just too large these days."
PHIL GRAUER IS A DIRECTOR OF CANADA, THE PIONEERING LOWER EAST SIDE GALLERY: "Dealers are people too. Deitch has run a gallery for a number of years with much success. He will likely be able to run a museum. Seems like a nice place to retire. I suppose there is a conflict of interest, but museums are full of conflicted interests. At least with the MOCA deal we all know who we're getting. This isn't to say I would have hired him.
Deitch Projects has had a significant place in New York arts. I doubt it will really close. There are too many people attached to the thing. I suspect names will change and it will shift hands, but not disappear. Probably grow. Get better. Hope they stay downtown."
ANDREA ROSEN OPENED HER CHELSEA GALLERY, THEN IN SOHO, EXACTLY TWENTY YEARS AGO:
I think it's great for the museum. It's a smart choice and an inspired choice. It means that MOCA will have an interesting voice and not just continue. It's going to be a place that not just exists but thrives. I adore the construct of a gallery and how it brings you such a variety of experience in the context of a lot of personal freedom. I find it compelling that Jeffrey can give that up. But his interest is to make a contribution. I know he felt that way about the gallery. It will affect New York, because Jeffrey played a very specific role, one that no one else is playing. There was an immediate vitality around project events like the annual Art Parade. He's a bringer together of people, generations, and places. Hopefully someone else will be inspired by him." ■