The West Coast
When my plane broke through the Los Angeles smog on an afternoon in early spring, I imagined I had willed the town into existence by nothing more than my arrival. It’s the city’s foundational myth—perpetually born yesterday. I was there to cover an art fair called Paris Photo, which was being held at that most mythic of L.A. landmarks—Paramount Studios—and to report on the city’s art world. If New York had a say in the matter, it was something of an accident of history that there were ever artists in Los Angeles at all. The dealers and collectors were always in New York. And who could force the entertainment industry to care? For decades, the most noteworthy thing about successful Los Angeles artists—aside from a core group—was that they left for the East Coast.
The reality is more complicated. New York changed. Downtown ceased being a squatter’s free-for-all and became an outdoor shopping center. The S&M clubs and taxi garages of Chelsea gave way to galleries stacked on top of one another. Increasingly, the creatively minded transplants who migrated each day to New York from all over the country came with expiration dates. Ten years would go by, if you were lucky, before the inevitable fatigue set in. So many migrants have gone to California as a solution to some problem that it’s become an American trope. But in a town where the front page of the largest daily newspaper reports the unsubstantiated rumor that industry blogger Nikki Finke would be fired from Deadline Hollywood, the arts have quietly carved out a home. New York just got more and more expensive.
Gallerist has learned from several independent sources that Paul Schimmel, former chief curator of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, is in late negotiations to join Hauser & Wirth gallery, which, according to sources, plans to open a branch in Los Angeles.
The gallery did not respond to a request for comment, and Mr. Schimmel has not yet returned a request for comment.
Paul Schimmel and the museum parted ways last summer. His departure brought wide criticism of the already embattled museum, which has been led by director Jeffrey Deitch since June 2010, and occasioned the departure of all four artist trustees. Since Mr. Schimmel left the museum, rumors have circulated in the art world as to where he would go, and there has been talk that several top-level galleries were interested in hiring him. Sources close to Mr. Schimmel have said that he preferred to stay in L.A. He has since been working as a co-director of the Mike Kelley Foundation.
In a major reversal, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s board announced that the institution will hire a chief curator to replace Paul Schimmel, who departed from the museum in June. Previously, the museum had not planned to replace Mr. Schimmel, instead using guest curators to augment its existing curatorial staff when organizing shows.
Robert Storr, dean of the Yale School of Art, weighs in on the whole L.A. MOCA debacle over at HuffPost. He kicks off his piece by stating that he’s read Eli Broad’s self-help book, The Art of Being Unreasonable, and asks how someone as deft at business as Mr. Broad could be so “inept and self-defeating” at philanthropy. Ouch.
Mr. Storr continues to paint Mr. Broad and his “enabler” Jeffrey Deitch as two scheming characters in a Shakespearean tragedy whose judgment, clouded by self-interest, is causing the downfall of a great institution. (“Dismissing Paul Schimmel in favor of Deitch is like cashing in all your value stocks and doubling down on junk bonds for the sake of a long-shot windfall.”) It’s quite a read.
The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has announced that, following the departure of its chief curator, Paul Schimmel, it will withdraw from an international touring exhibition of the late British Pop artist Richard Hamilton, which Mr. Schimmel had been co-curating.
In an effort to “set the record straight” about the departure of Paul Schimmel from the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which we reported here, Eli Broad, wrote an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Broad, who was the founding chairman of the board of trustees of the museum (he’s now a lifetime trustee there), suggests Mr. Schimmel may not have been staging shows that were popular enough or cost-effective enough considering the museum’s history of fiscal woes.
Police nab four in Picasso forgery. [The Washington Post]
Painting forger tells the Daily Mail not to overlook the little details: “‘I pride myself on my forensic expertise. I started with extensive research…the correct canvas, correct stretchers…framed in good period antique frames.” [Daily Mail]
With a whopping 130 artists and more than 500 artworks, “Under the Big Black Sun,” the exhibition about California art from 1974 to 1981 that former Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles chief curator Paul Schimmel organized last fall, seems likely to be remembered as his swan song at the museum. (He departed last week, though he is completing work on “Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962,” which opens in September.)
Just a few days before splitting with MOCA, where he’d been a curator for 22 years, Mr. Schimmel was at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., to participate in one of many panel discussions held during a weekend conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the school’s Center for Curatorial Studies. The discussion in which Mr. Schimmel took part was titled “Case Studies,” and invited curator panelists to explain how they go about assembling shows. Listening to him talk about and show slides from “Under the Big Black Sun,” which opened last October as part of the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative and ran through Feb. 13, provided a window into his curating process.
More than two full days after news broke that the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and its chief curator, Paul Schimmel, had parted ways, the exact circumstances of his departure remain unclear, and various national newspapers are offering differing accounts of whether or not he was fired. The official line from MOCA is that Mr. Schimmel, who has declined to speak with press, resigned.
Update 2:20 p.m.
We’ve just received a statement from MOCA Board Co-Chair David G. Johnson on the matter of the departure of longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel.