Jeffrey Deitch: Wow.

“Wow,” is my reaction when someone does something so jaw-droppingly inappropriate, that no rant can suffice. Last week, Lee Rosenbaum reported on CultureGrrl that Jeffrey Deitch, the NY art-dealer/ artstar-fabricator/ tastemaker who was recently appointed as director of Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LA MOCA) in a controversial, headline-grabbing move that NY Magazine dubbed a “hail-Mary pass” for the financially struggling institution, plans to continue selling his gallery’s inventory even AFTER he officially assumes the directorship position at LA MOCA on June 1st, both through “minor” auctions like Christie’s Open and by transferring the most important works to his personal, private collection and selling them from there. In other words, he plans to continue to be an art dealer.

In its handbook, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) states:

It is unprofessional for a museum director to use his or her influence or position for personal gain. A director shall not deal in works of art or be party to the recommendation for purchase by museums or collectors of works of art in which the director has any undisclosed financial interest. The director shall not accept any commission or compromising gift from any seller or buyer of works of art.

If the director collects art, extraordinary discretion is required to assure that no conflict of interest arises between the director’s personal collecting activity and the concerns of the museum. If there is perception of a conflict, the museum’s governing board should be granted first option in acquiring for the museum the work or works in question. Gifts of works of art to the director by artists whose work is or may be shown or acquired by the museum can compromise the position of the director and of the institution and should be accepted only in special circumstances and with full disclosure. In such cases where there is the possibility of a perception of conflict of interest, the museum’s governing board must be granted first option to accept these gifts for the museum.

Jeffrey Deitch is plainly violating the code of ethics for museum directors. He is supposed to take care that there is no appearance of impropriety when merely COLLECTING art– selling it is off the table. And now, the SVA Continuing Education blog reports that Deitch’s inaugural exhibition at LA MOCA will be a survey of works made by or about blonde American women titled Gentleman Prefer Blondes, clearly another desperate, attention-grabbing gesture for the museum. I wonder how many of the artists whose work will be included comprise Deitch’s personal and/ or gallery collections…

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Filed under Art, Controversial Art, Museum

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