Tag Archives: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art

Muzzled: the art world strikes back

By Bob Hicks

We are the land of the free, except, of course, when we aren’t. Fortunately, when we aren’t, we are still sometimes the home of the brave — or at least, of the politically canny.

David Wojnarowicz self-portrait/Wikimedia CommonsIn the latest turn in the David Wojnarowicz flap, the Associated Press reports that the Andy Warhol Foundation has given an ultimatum to the Smithsonian Institution and its National Portrait Gallery: restore Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly to the gallery’s exhibit Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, from which it was removed after complaints from the Catholic League and U.S. Rep. John Boehner, or say bye-bye to any future Warhol checks.

We’re not talking fifty bucks and a bag of popcorn. The Warhol Foundation has given $375,000 to Smithsonian museums in the past three years, including $100,000 for Hide/Seek, a show that explores the impact of sexual orientation on art. So far the Smithsonian hasn’t blinked. We’ll miss the money, it’s essentially said, but we won’t be bullied into changing our minds. That’s a neat spin, invoking principle and bravery to defend an act that was itself a craven and expedient caving-in to political pressure. The whole tawdry affair makes Wojnarowicz’s lips-sewn-together self-portrait shown here seem disturbingly prescient. Speak no evil, indeed.

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A scatter: Museums, bridges, noses, money

Some things just must be cleared up by the New Year, yes? Like what’s happening at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which threw up its hands last month and cried out for help as its financial position (or at least its endowment) withered away to next to nothing (well, $7 million or so).

The New York Times’ Edward Wyatt reports that the MoCA board will decide today whether it will merge with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or go it alone with “help” from Eli Broad, who has offered MoCA what amounts to a $15 million matching grant to rebuild its endowment and funding for five years of exhibitions (at $3 million per year).
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Today in Art Scatter: MoCA meets James Ensor

We have theorized (another way of saying “joked”) that Art Scatter is nothing but loose ends, a collection of them, maybe a little like “fringe” except not all the same length or so linear. But when I say, that I have some loose ends to tie up this week for you, I actually DO have something specific in mind.

1. MoCA on the brink.
Last week over at OregonLive I posted on the situation at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which is dire — big deficits, crashing endowment, soaring expenses, oblivious staff and board of directors. Exactly how you let these things happen is a mystery: The endowment was shrinking even before the stock market crash, which has demolished everybody’s endowment, but now it’s down to $6 million or so for a museum that spends $21 million a year. For comparison’s sake, that’s less than one-fifth of the Portland Art Museum’s endowment for one of the world’s most important contemporary art museums. Which is crazy.
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