Following the tumultuous tenure of gallery guru Jeffrey Deitch, who officially left in September, the L.A. Museum of Contempary Art (MOCA) announced tonight that Philippe Vergne has been chosen by its board to be the institution's next director.
See also: Jeffrey Deitch Leaving MOCA.
The former chief of the Dia Art Foundation in New York, who in 2006 co-curated the Whitney Biennial with Chrissie Iles, was chosen following a worldwide search by a 14-member committee, the museum says.
According to MOCA's statement, Vergne has the chops. He …
… built an international reputation as a successful and committed museum leader with a deep knowledge of contemporary art, a respected curatorial vision, close relationships with artists and the international contemporary art community and strong fundraising skills. Prior to leading the Dia Foundation, Vergne held leadership roles as Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where he worked for over a decade organizing more than 25 international exhibitions as well as artist residencies and the Herzog & de Meuron facility expansion; as Director of the Francois Pinault Foundation in Paris; and as Director of the Musée d'art Contemporain (MAC) in Marseille, France.
MOCA Board Co-Chair Lilly Tartikoff Karatz:
Philippe Vergne is a world class museum leader and we are so thrilled to welcome him to Los Angeles. Philippe brings a strong international perspective and curatorial record to MOCA, which is vital to us continuing as one of the most important contemporary art museums today. We are celebrating his decision to join us.
Vergne himself says, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this great institution into its next phase and to return to Los Angeles with my family to my wife's native city.”
MOCA has struggled with its direction – Deitch was a love-him-or-hate-him leader who attempted bold showcases, including the lauded graffiti exhibition “Art in the Streets” – and with fundraising.
But the museum says it's now on sure footing with a $100 million endowment and a new chief.
Ed Ruscha, who resigned from MOCA's board of trustees under Deitch's tenure, leaving the panel with zero artists, is now on board with the museum's latest choice for leadership. Ruscha called Vergne “the most community-friendly choice to steer our ship.”
Search committee co-chair Joel Wachs:
MOCA has always been the artists' museum, and the presence, intellect and keen insight of John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Cathy Opie and Ed Ruscha have made sure it will continue to be so in the future.