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Three of the four artists who resigned from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ board in 2012 are returning in support of the institution’s new director, Philippe Vergne. John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, and Catherine Opie will be joined by the board’s newest member, the Los Angeles-based artist Mark Grotjahn. Ed Ruscha, who also resigned in 2012, is currently serving on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s board. Ruscha did join Baldessari, Kruger, and Opie as a volunteer on the search committee that MOCA formed to find a successor to Jeffrey Deitch, the former New York City art dealer who announced his resignation from his post as the museum’s director in July 2013.

Deitch’s tenure at MOCA was plagued by criticism. After firing longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel in 2012, Baldessari, Kruger, Opie, and Ruscha resigned from the board, leaving it void of artist representation. While the museum was in poor financial standing when Deitch came on board, the museum continued to fall into financial despair during his time as director.

Vergne, who comes to MOCA from the Dia Art Foundation in New York, has an extensive background in museum administration both in the U.S. and Europe. When the museum announced Vergne’s appointment back in January, Baldessari, Kruger, Opie, and Ruscha all expressed enthusiasm for the hire. In addition, his appointment came on the heels of the museum’s announcement that it had reached its goal of a $100 million endowment, most of which was raised in the past year.

Vergne said, “For me it is extremely important to have artists represented on the board. MOCA was founded by artists, patrons and civic leaders as the artist’s museum, and its incredible collection and record of groundbreaking exhibitions pay testament to that. It is a privilege to join MOCA with our new and returning trustees at the moment when MOCA is stronger than ever before.”

MOCA has included artists on its board since 1980, a year after the museum’s founding. 

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After resigning from the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MOCA) board last summer, John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie and Ed Ruscha have agreed to join the institution’s director search committee. The 14-member team will help find a replacement for former director, Jeffrey Deitch, who resigned in July 2013. In addition to the four prominent artists, the committee includes several members of MOCA’s board including Joel Wachs, who helms the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Baldessari told the Los Angeles Times “pertinent qualities [for a new director] would be fundraising, experience in how a museum operates, and most importantly, past curatorial skill. It would be a real opportunity to whoever is appointed, because there’s nowhere to go but up.” Deitch, who resigned with nearly two years left on his five-year contract, was plagued by criticism during his time at MOCA. While the museum was in poor financial standing when he came on board, the MOCA continued to fall into financial despair during Deitch’s time as director. The museum recently started to regain its footing after fundraising efforts by board members garnered over $75 million in donations.

There have been a number of rumors suggesting that Ann Goldstein, MOCA’s former senior curator who recently stepped down as the director of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, has been discussed as a potential candidate.

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After three years at the helm of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), former New York art dealer, Jeffrey Deitch, is expected to resign as director. Deitch announced his intention to leave the institution to MOCA's trustees and board. He is currently in the middle of a five-year contract with the museum.

Prior to joining MOCA in 2010, Deitch ran the Deitch Project, a massively successful and pioneering contemporary art gallery in Manhattan. He also served on the authentication committee of the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of Deitch’s close friends.

Deitch’s tenure at MOCA has been plagued by criticism. After firing longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel in 2012, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger resigned from the museum’s board, leaving it void of artist representation. While MOCA was in poor financial standing when Deitch came on board, the museum continued to fall into financial despair during his time as director. The museum is just starting to regain its footing after fundraising efforts by board members garnered over $75 million in donations.

A meeting is schedule for MOCA’s board on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A search committee is expected to form shortly after.

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The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents Catherine Opie: Empty and Full, on view at the ICA from April 15 through Sept. 5, 2011. Exhibition presents new work on view for the first time.

This spring, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston opens Catherine Opie: Empty and Full, an exhibition of new and recent work by photographer Catherine Opie. One of the defining artists of her generation, Opie is known for her portraits and landscapes. In this exhibition, Opie has taken photographs of recent political demonstrations and gatherings—ranging from the inauguration of President Obama to Tea Party rallies. Her work explores the intimate relations between community and politics, citizens and the landscape, offering a dynamic portrait of the United States at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Organized by ICA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth, Catherine Opie: Empty and Full is on view at the ICA from April 15 through Sept. 5, 2011.

“Catherine Opie: Empty and Full is a timely exhibition by an important artist, whose work continues to pose and frame questions about the most basic human values: love, community, family, and freedom,” says Jill Medvedow, director of the ICA.

“Opie’s recent work elaborates on the relationship between people and place, particularly the energy and desires created when masses of people convene around a shared interest or value,” says Molesworth. “Freedom of assembly is one of the rights Americans take for granted and Opie is interested in the way that sites, such as the National Mall in Washington, D.C., come to be defined by the groups of people who assemble there and how their gathering shapes the identity of the place. Drawing on the long and august tradition of American landscape painting and documentary photography, Opie ultimately gives us a picture of a great experiment: democracy in action.”

The first series is entitled Inauguration and documents the enormous crowds that convened in Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama’s inauguration. These images show us portraits of Americans assembled en masse on the Mall, bundled up against the January cold to await the arrival of the new president. Shot against a landscape of pale winter light and bare trees, Opie’s photographs capture moments of individual emotion on a day that recognized the hopes and voices of an American majority.

Other works are images of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and the annual convening of the Boy Scouts of America. These works further Opie’s interest in the specific use made of the landscape, as well as her ideas about the wide variety of ideals and beliefs held by Americans in their pursuit of a meaningful life. These lush and pastoral images are held in contrast with images Opie has been taking of political protests in urban areas, notably Tea Party rallies, pro-immigration marches, and anti-war demonstrations. A comparison is made between urban and rural, pleasure and protest, leisure and commitment, all of which add up to a rich and complex view of the United States, our citizens and our deeply engrained relationship to the landscape.

Installed around the perimeter of the ICA gallery is a series of devastatingly beautiful images of the ocean. These images, from a body of work called Twelve Miles to the Horizon, were taken over a period of ten days, one at every sunrise and one at every sunset, from the deck of a massive container ship making the passage from Busan, Korea, to Long Beach, California. These pictures of sunrises and sunsets all share the same horizon line, are radically unpopulated, and are feats of technical precision and sublime beauty. Their “emptiness” stands in stark contrast to the fullness of the political pictures.

Despite the formal differences between the two “types” of images on view in Empty and Full, there is also a strain of continuity. In each body of work, Opie suggests a profound level of interconnection and interdependence that people have not only with one another, but with the spaces we collectively inhabit.

Artist bio
Born in 1961 in Sandusky, Ohio, Catherine Opie has become one of America’s premier documentarians, photographing the American landscape—from its Alaskan glaciers to its suburban freeways—as frequently as she images its citizens. A graduate of Cal Arts, she currently teaches in the studio program at the University of California at Los Angeles. Select solo exhibitions include Catherine Opie: Figure and Landscape at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010), Catherine Opie: American Photographer at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2008), Catherine Opie: Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2006). Opie was a 2009 recipient of the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Women’s Caucus for Art and was awarded a United States Artists Fellowship in 2006.

The exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Mark and Marie Schwartz, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, Sandy and Les Nanberg and Regen Projects.

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