Jeffrey Deitch has been stone cold hip since the '70s and continuously relevant in the art world since. Art dealer, artist, curator, advisor, patron, writer, strategist and authenticator -- Deitch might not be a very tall man, but his arms encompass an enormous sliver of the contemporary art world. Most famously associated with the New York City street art scene of the early '80s, he boasted friendships with Jean-Michel Basquiat (of whose estate he was a part of the authentication committee) and being the representative of Keith Haring and Jeff Koons.
Locally, he might be best known for co-curating the Wynwood Walls project with the late Tony Goldman back in 2009. Most recently, he served as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles from 2010 through 2013. Prior to that, he operated Deitch Projects, "a unique, private institution that presented over 250 artists projects from 33 countries" between 1996 and 2010. Highly regarded artists like Barry McGee, Swoon, Inka Essenhigh and Cecily Brown began their careers there.
Since stepping down as director, he has been involved in historical and contemporary exhibition projects in New York.
This scene has lent itself to so much "subtitling" we were as shocked as you are that this one existed, proving the polarizing figure Deitch has cut into the modern art world's landscape.
In the summer of 2012, Deitch curated the exhibition The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol, a shining example of his work as a curator and invariably the reason why his tenure with the museum was cut short - for some Deitch is too much of a hands-on figure and misunderstood for his courting money people while carousing with artists and the impression that he invariably works both sides for his own profiting. While that could very well be true, it's not done in a malicious manner as he mainly focuses personal projects towards the displaying of new discoveries in contemporary art -- and, after all, the art world is a money world at the end of the day.
Criticisms, like LA Times' art reporter Christopher Knight, have long held, thinly veiled insinuations that he ran the MOCA LA like his personal play area, with the New York Times' Deborah Solomon writing in an article about his LA departure this October, "It seemed that Mr. Deitch genuinely could not understand why anyone might take offense if he ran the museum as if it were the West Coast branch of his gallery."
The exhibit, noted for its juxtaposing of current artists with the short-lived and not-as-successful foray into abstract painting by Warhol, was as clear an explanation as Deitch could muster concerning how Warhol's factory transformed the artistic approach towards abstraction and how the genre evolved in the years after. The de la Cruz Collection and the Miami Design District have chosen him as the inaugural lecturer in their new lecture series. Deitch will discuss how that group of artists featured in the exhibit have advanced the abstract painting tradition and how their works have incorporated contemporary technologies of image-making, used performative approaches, and added a sensitivity to the overall social context of art.
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Starting with Warhol and his work, Deitch will go on to discuss the impacts and innovations of Rudolf Stingel, Mark Bradford, Wade Guyton, Josh Smith, Christopher Wool, Tauba Auerbach and others on recent abstract painting. There will be light fare and refreshments starting at 6:30 p.m. and the talk will begin at 8.
Whether you respect Deitch for his savvy art dealing or are suspicious of his intentions, his chutzpah and charisma for the modern art world is his greatest asset as a speaker. His latest book, Live the Art from Rizzoli Books is a comprehensive history of Deitch Projects and an impromptu piece of dishware.