Jeffrey Deitch

Jeffrey Deitch, Museum Director–When it was announced earlier this year that gallerist Jeffrey Deitch was going to take the reigns as director of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art, many in the West Coast community feared a New York mutiny of their stake in contemporary art. But fans of Deitch’s SoHo gallery could have immediately set Californian minds at ease. Deitch is no invader. He’s a gracious, thoughtful improviser. His biggest asset is his ability to build a community—one, in the 15 years of Deitch Projects, that gave a home to some of the most exciting grass-roots urban art projects ever seen in downtown New York.

One city’s loss is another’s gain, and now the 57-year-old ex-gallerist and current museum head is firmly rooted in Los Angeles: in the hills of Los Feliz to be exact, where Deitch has taken abode in a Spanish-style mansion once owned by Cary Grant (the recent addition of a Richard Woods wall-to-wall installation of cartoonish blue wood paneling with a Vegas-esque light piece by Tim Noble and Sue Webster in the room off the pool certifies that the new resident is more art lover than Hollywood legend—for now). “I’m still just finding my way around,” Deitch says modestly while sitting in a chair by the pool. “I’m immersing myself.” He’s a quick learner. Having tapped artist Doug Aitken to create a happening for the famous moca gala in November, Deitch has already put together a show called “The Artist’s Museum” which frames an institutional dialogue between artists and the museum in its 31-year history. Staying true to his long-held interest in graffiti, Deitch is planning his first monumental exhibition to be this spring’s “Art in the Streets,” an extensive multimedia show devoted to the history of graffiti art. “After Pop art, graffiti is probably the biggest art movement in recent history to have such an impact on culture,” he explains. Deitch’s own impact on Los Angeles culture is starting off with a democratic gesture: art from the ground up.

Jeffrey Deitch in front of Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s Golden Showers, 2000 (foreground), and Richard Woods’s Logo no. 83, 2010 (background), at his Los Feliz home, Los Angeles, October 2010. All clothing: Deitch’s own.

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