Jesse Dylan, a Los Angeles filmmaker and the son of Bob Dylan, released a short film on Friday in defense of MOCA’s “embattled” director Jeffrey Deitch, who resigned from the museum on Wednesday.
“People are resistant to change; and in order to push forward with something like art, we need new people to push and pull it in different ways,” Dylan told Culture Monster. “Jeffrey does a good job in bringing new artists and voices into the discussion -- people who might be overlooked. He helped us look, for a brief period of time, at what could be considered art.”
Dylan made the six-minute film, an interview with Deitch shot at his home in Los Feliz, in February. It addresses such subjects as art history, how Deitch envisioned Los Angeles before he got here (“the city where things were opening up in art”) and the gallery-owner-turned-museum-director’s very first love affair with a work of art.
“I was 12 years old, maybe, and I remember being struck by a Fernand Leger lithograph,” Deitch says. “It just spoke to me, it had this visual impact. I connected with it.”
Dylan, who founded the production and media company Wondros, says he’d long known about Deitch from his gallery, Deitch Projects, in New York. But he hadn’t ever met the man in person. Then in 2011, Dylan attended MOCA’s “Art in the Streets” show -- a survey of the graffiti and street art movement that’s widely considered one of Deitch’s high points at the museum. He sought Deitch out.
“He’s a very complicated, fascinating character,” Dylan said. “‘Art in the Streets’ was a different experience of art than I’d ever had. I was curious about the person who’d thought it up.”
In the film, Deitch also addresses his critics: “Do I understand the reason for the controversy?” he says. “I understand that there are many people in the artists community who see art moving very quickly, who see this new audience that doesn’t differentiate so much between whether the artist is John Baldessari or Michel Gondry. The traditional role of the museum will not go away. It’s the institution that perseveres and interprets our visual culture.”
“Though Jeffrey Deitch is no longer Director at MOCA, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that he brought an original voice to the art scene in Los Angeles,” Dylan wrote on the Huffington Post Friday, where he released the film. “Whether or not you’re a fan of his style, we can all agree that he was responsible for a set of provocative, interesting and unexpected exhibitions that enriched our experience of art.”
As for who should replace Deitch at the helm of MOCA, Dylan told Culture Monster:
“I just hope they’ll stay committed to getting new people, new audiences, like with ‘Art in the Streets.’ I hope that continues -- because art is for the people. Jeffrey knew that.”