Former MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch Is Opening a New Gallery in L.A. Where No One Can Tell Him What to Do

He’s baaaaa-aaaaack

Despite Jeffrey Deitch’s contentious relationship with Los Angeles—maybe more on our end than on his—the New York-based art dealer, gallery owner, and controversial former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art is once again setting up shop in L.A. Only this time, it’s on his terms. The New York Times is reporting that, four years after returning to New York and reopening his gallery in SoHo, Deitch has just signed the lease for a 15,000 square-foot warehouse at 925 North Orange Drive in Hollywood.

Deitch’s three year tenure at MOCA was plagued by tumult from the outset: His appointment as director set the art world back on its heels—was Deitch, a dealer, really capable of helming a major metropolitan art institution with no past experience in nonprofits?—and his constant clashing with chief curator Paul Schimmel, who was eventually ousted, led to the resignation of the four esteemed artists on the museum’s board (John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, and Catherine Opie). Many of his shows were hugely popular with visitors (a Dennis Hopper retrospective, a comprehensive survey of street art that made taggers like Retna a household name) but less lauded by the art community (Baldessari described Deitch as having an “entertainment mentality“), all of which led to the Times describing Deitch’s MOCA, perhaps unfairly, as a “museum on life support.”

Even so, Deitch is thrilled by the prospect of running his own gallery here, one that’s just a stone’s throw away from neighbors like Regen Projects, Hannah Hoffman, and Kohn Gallery. “I had a very good experience in Los Angeles…and made a lot of friends here,” he told the Times. “Running MOCA was a privilege and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. But I’m much better suited to running my own situation, where I can make all the creative decisions.” The first show he’s planning is called The Extreme Present, which will survey of “the legacy of Dada and Pop Art in the digital age.” Per the Times, it’s a follow up to Overpop, which Deitch developed for the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. His plan is to do three large shows a year that cater to performance artists like Miranda July and fashion behemoths like Rodarte, a choice he’s made because “the audience in L.A. is so open and receptive” to artists with more visual sensibilities. Deitch’s west coast outpost is set to open sometime this fall.