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LA MOCA’s Schimmel Fired – LA Times’ Knight Weighs In

July 3, 2012

Paul Schimmel, chief curator for the Museum of Contemporary Art, was fired earlier this week. (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times / June 30, 2012)

What is going on at LA’s MOCA? The LA Times’ Christopher Knight does an initial post-mortem and analysis of a very messy controversy:

Who is the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art? According to the museum it’s Jeffrey Deitch, the former New York art dealer who — with virtually no prior museum experience — assumed the top job at one of America’s leading institutions two years ago.

But don’t be so sure.

Late Wednesday, MOCA dumped Paul Schimmel, its chief curator for 22 years and a prime reason for the museum’s stellar international reputation. No curator working in the United States today has a more impressive record of exhibitions and acquisitions in the field of art since 1950 than Schimmel.

His sudden firing speaks of an intrusive board of trustees and a weak professional staff, which is a lethal combination for an art museum.

Here’s the shocking part: Trustees voted on the firing, and Eli Broad, one of eight life trustees at MOCA, delivered the news.

The board voted? On a curator’s job status?

And a trustee did the dirty work? Where was the museum director?

Judy Dobrzynzki at Real Clear Arts opines about MOCA’s botched damage control.

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