Saturday, March 09, 2013

Did Christoper Knight Just Torpedo LACMA's Takeover MOCA in Today's LA Times?

LACMA's proposed takeover of MOCA has just crashed into a major roadblock. Christopher Knight of the LA Times just put up a piece suggesting - if not outright stating - that MOCA losing its independence for a paltry - and yet to be raised $100 million dollars (which would be shared between the two museums, according to the offer) was not just a bargain, but far too cheap a price for MOCA to even consider for the loss of its curatorial independence.

With Knight having long been seen by some as the leading proponent of anyone but Eli camp, this clearly contradicts those assumptions. Even more importantly, Knight goes out of his way to dismiss the rumors that Broad has any designs on adding MOCA's collection to his own while he also, in dramatic contrast to what has been written in the New York Times, makes it clear this is a merger that will be exceptionally hard for LACMA to achieve.

These two astute observations would seem to clear the path for USC - about which Knight also expresses reservations - to consummate its negotiations. But it also makes it far easier for another white knight - particularly a local institution that does not collect contemporary art and which would allow MOCA to have an independent curatorial program and allow LA to continue to have two major collecting institutions promoting contemporary art - to make a dramatic last minute appearance, with or without the assistance of USC.

Possibly even an institution that might bring the world's greatest photography collection to an adjacent site on Bunker Hill (an addition that would make Grand Avenue the undisputed center of the contemporary art world) that could - one day - include the site for the long dreamed of building to house a permanent display of MOCA's permanent collection. A merger or relationship - that would not only preserve the collection intact (rather than splitting it with another collection)and its curatorial independence , but even make its collections far stronger.

So even if MOCA and Eli have not already been talking with the Getty (which I doubt), I can't imagine that discussion not now happening.

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