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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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The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has concluded its six-month search for a director to replace Jeffrey Deitch, who stepped down last summer. On January 15, the institution announced that it had selected Philippe Vergne, director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York, for the role.

French-born Vergne is a veteran curator and has an extensive background in museum administration both in the U.S. and in Europe. He served as the director of the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Marseille from 1994 to 1997 and in 2005, he was named  deputy director and chief curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Vergne has been at the helm of the Dia Art Foundation since 2008.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is emerging from a tumultuous period, largely caused by Deitch’s tenure at the institution. Deitch was plagued by criticism after he fired longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel in 2012. Following Schimmel’s departure, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger resigned from the museum’s board, leaving it void of artist representation. All four artists were on the director search committee. The museum released a statement saying that Baldessari, Ruscha, Opie and Kruger all expressed enthusiasm for the hire.

Vergne’s appointment comes 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.

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The founders of New York’s Dia Art Foundation are suing the organization and Sotheby’s to stop the auctioning of artworks they say were donated with the intention of keeping them readily available to the public. Heiner Friedrich and his ex-wife, Fariha Friedrich, who started the foundation in 1974 with art historian Helen Winkler, filed the suit in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan on November 7, 2013.

The sale, which is scheduled to take place at Sotheby’s on November 13 and 14, includes contemporary artworks by Barnett Newman, Cy Twombly and John Chamberlain – all of which the plantiffs claim were donated or loaned to Dia in the 1970s and 1980. The Friedrichs said in their complaint, “Dia’s proposed auction of the subject works would remove the works from public access and viewing in direct contravention of Dia’s entire intent and purpose and of plaintiffs’ arrangements and understandings with Dia.”

The Friederichs started Dia to help artists bring “visionary projects” to fruition and to make them available to the public. Heiner Friederich has not served on the foundation’s board since 1985; Fariha remains a trustee emeritus. They have asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the sale.  

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The Dia Art Foundation, which closed its two galleries in Manhattan in 2004, has gathered about half the money needed to build its new space in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. While the organization has pushed their fundraising efforts into high gear, they are left without an acquisition fund for its collection, which includes works from the 1960s to the present.

The Dia Art Foundation announced that they will be holding a sale of paintings and sculptures at Sotheby’s in New York on November 13-14, 2013 to remedy that. The foundation hopes to raise at least $20 million by auctioning off works by Cy Twombly (1928-2011), John Chamberlain (1927-2011) and Barnett Newman (1905-1970).

The Dia Art Foundation’s collection includes works by modern and contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol (1921-1987), Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) and Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Philippe Vergne, the Dia’s director, has not commented on what works he’s hoping to acquired with the funds from the Sotheby’s sale.

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