Thursday, January 16, 2014

Philippe Vergnhe of the Dia Foundation New Director of MOCA

Below is the full release from MOCA. 

Full comments later but my first impression is the MOCA's board main criteria appears to have been curatorial talent rather than a proven record of fund raising.  And that is very good news.  It demonstrates the new Board understands it is their responsibility to raise the money and the Director's job to supply the curatorial vision.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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Los Angeles, Calif., - Following a worldwide search led by a 14-member committee, The Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) announced today that it has voted unanimously to appoint Philippe Vergne as the museum’s director. Vergne succeeds Jeffrey Deitch, who resigned from MOCA on September 1, 2013.
MOCA is the only independent, artist-founded museum in Los Angeles dedicated solely to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art and has one of the most important collections of contemporary art in the world now comprising more than 6800 objects, a history of diverse, ground-breaking and scholarly exhibitions, many of which have travelled internationally, three Los Angeles locations of architectural renown, and a stronger financial base than ever before in its history.

Vergne who most recently served for five years as director of the Dia Art Foundation, New York has 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.

Vergne’s recent institutional accomplishments include the rebuilding and transformation of the Dia Art Foundation, achieved by successfully stewarding and developing its board, fundraising for operations and capital projects, instituting long-range planning and cultivating close relationships with artist and donor communities. Since 1992 Vergne has organized and curated monographic, group and thematic exhibitions at major institutions around the world including, among others for Carl André, Yves Klein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Huang Yong Ping and Kara Walker and in 2006, Vergne co-curated the Whitney Biennial with Chrissie Iles. Vergne has edited and contributed essays to numerous books and catalogues, and has written for major art magazines. He is also a frequent lecturer. In 1988, Vergne received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Paris II, Assas and in 1989, he received a BA in archeology and the history of modern art from the University of Paris IV, Sorbonne, where he continued his art history studies, earning an MA (1991) and a Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies (first doctoral diploma) (1992).

Vergne’s appointment follows a careful and wide-reaching international search which began in July this year spearheaded by a 14-member search committee led by MOCA Board Chairs Emeriti Maria Arena Bell and David G. Johnson, MOCA Board President Fred Sands, former MOCA Trustee and President of the Andy Warhol Foundation Joel Wachs, newly elected Board Co-Chairs Lilly Tartikoff Karatz and Maurice Marciano, MOCA Board Vice President Eugenio Lopez, MOCA Life Trustee Blake Byrne, Interim Director Maria Seferian and artists who formerly served on the MOCA board John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie, and Ed Ruscha, among others.

“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,” said MOCA Board Co-Chair Lilly Tartikoff Karatz.

Added MOCA Board Co-Chair Maurice Marciano, "I am very excited that Philippe will join MOCA as its Director.  I love his passion for contemporary art and he has a great vision for the future. Also, he is loved by all the artists he has worked with. With the successful completion of MOCA's endowment campaign and Philippe as its Director, we are embarking on a new, great chapter for MOCA as the leading, international museum of contemporary art."

"I am honored to be joining MOCA. I have admired its collection and programs throughout my career and 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. From Michael Heizer to Mike Kelley, MOCA has changed the way I perceive and understand art. I am extremely grateful for the experiences and support that Dia has provided me with, and with pride I will look forward to its great successes," said MOCA Director Philippe Vergne.

“Philippe Vergne’s reputation in the contemporary art world and strong curatorial background make him uniquely positioned to lead MOCA at this time of great excitement behind our mission and our future,” said David G. Johnson, Chair Emeritus of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Director Search Committee. “Philippe's scholarship, proven record of museum leadership and the mutual respect he has developed among the world’s leading artists will allow him to cultivate our legacy through MOCA’s world-class collection of contemporary art and ongoing innovative, creative programming.”

“With such a renowned group of candidates interested in this role, we needed to look beyond the resume to find a leader who would influence our program while also enmeshing themselves in MOCA’s unique cultural fabric,” said Maria Arena Bell, Chair Emeritus of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Director Search Committee. “In addition to our world-class collection of art, we possess an appetite for cutting-edge programming and Philippe Vergne is the ideal person to continue MOCA’s journey forward.”

MOCA Board President Fred Sands who serves as a member of the Search Committee stated, “We’re thrilled with the quality and quantity of qualified applicants from all over the world who indicated an interest in the position which speaks well of MOCA’s reputation in the arts community. Now that we will have a $100M endowment, MOCA is the place to be in the museum world.”

“I am 100% excited that Philippe Vergne will be the new director of MOCA.  MOCA is very fortunate.  I think it’s a perfect marriage,” said John Baldessari.

“Philippe Vergne has the intelligence, vision, and ambition to lead MOCA forward. He has a deep appreciation of MOCA’s rigor, bravery, and unmatched program of contemporary exhibitions. His deep understanding of artists and the art they make brilliantly matches the collection of objects and ideas, the compelling timeline of powerful visuality, that is MOCA,” said Barbara Kruger.

“I am personally thrilled as an artist that our next director of MOCA will be Philippe Vergne. I first met Philippe while working on the Ice House series for a Walker residency and was taken by his ability for working with artists and his breadth of knowledge in contemporary art. In working with the search committee on finalizing him as our candidate for the next director of MOCA, our discussions continued to lead back to the enthusiasm and the vision for MOCA’s future, that Philippe brought to the table in the interview process. The future of MOCA has not only been financially met by the board during this time, but by the leadership and interest that Philippe will provide, and MOCA will certainly secure a brilliant future as the only independent museum of contemporary art in Los Angeles. In my opinion the museum we call “The Artists’ Museum” here in Los Angeles will thrive with all that has been accomplished in the past six months,” said Catherine Opie.

“After a very spirited search, Philippe Vergne is our highly qualified selection for director of MOCA. We believe him to be the most artist friendly and at the same time the most community friendly choice to steer our ship,” said Ed Ruscha.

Search Committee Co-Chair Joel Wachs lauded the participation of the four distinguished artists throughout the search process. “First and foremost,” Wachs said, “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.”

Last week the MOCA Board of Trustees announced the successful completion of its $100,000,000 endowment campaign, quadrupling its endowment and setting a next goal of raising its endowment to $150,000,000 preserving the museum’s heritage and protecting its place among the most important contemporary art museums in the world. The museum continues to have no debt on its balance sheet and is financially stronger than ever.

Interim Director Maria Seferian who was integral to the campaign’s success continues to lead the museum through the transition period prior to Vergne assuming his role as director.

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