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Plans for the Dia Art Foundation to build a new home in Manhattan have been scrapped. Jessica Morgan, who took up her post as director in January, says she is “not pursuing” the project started by the previous head, Philippe Vergne, who planned to construct a new building on the footprint of two of Dia’s three existing sites in the city.

Instead, Morgan is exploring other ways to re-establish Dia’s presence in Chelsea.

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“The end of boring art, the pelicans in the desert… Carrots. And parrots. Green peas… The art historian Clement Greenberg. All the drugs driving from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. God. God's nose."

What do all the things in this odd-sounding inventory have in common? Artist John Baldessari, of course. This list is a distillation of MOCA director Philippe Vergne's enthusiastic tribute speech at Saturday night's edition of the museum's annual fundraising gala, this time with Baldessari as its guest of honor.

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Former Dodgers President Jamie McCourt and heiress and philanthropist Aileen Getty are among the four new trustees announced Thursday by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Investor and philanthropist Andrew Nikou and art collector Chara Schreyer also joined MOCA's board of trustees.

“They each have a commitment and passion for civic and culture engagement that is inspiring,” MOCA Director Philippe Vergne said in the announcement. “As a group, they represent well how we are continuing to establish the museum’s national and international footprint.”

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The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has elected four new members to its board of trustees, the latest sign of growing confidence in the museum under new director Philippe Vergne.

Prominent L.A. artist Mark Bradford is among the additions, who also include legislative and public policy strategist Heather Podesta, entrepreneur and art collector Cathy Vedovi and banking executive and philanthropist Christopher Walker.

The additions announced Wednesday raise the number of board members to 50, which the museum said nearly restores the board to its largest size in the last decade.



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Philippe Vergne, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, has started talking to Frank Gehry about the possibility of renovating the museum’s Geffen Contemporary branch downtown. The US architect oversaw the initial conversion of warehouses in the early 1980s. The space, which measures 55,000 sq. ft, has proved popular with artists but does not have adequate climate controls for many art loans.

Gehry told "The Art Newspaper" during a fuller interview about a range of museum projects: “Philippe asked me to help him. I don’t think they have a lot of money at this point. He asked about an upgrade of the entrance and some work on the inside. I guess they’re going to try to [install] mechanical systems.”

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The Museum of Contemporary Art took the next step in rebuilding its staff and programming, appointing Helen Molesworth of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston as its new chief curator.

A scholar, art writer and curator, Molesworth has been at ICA/Boston since 2010. Before that she headed the department of modern and contemporary art at the Harvard Art Museum and served as the museum's Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art.

She will start Sept. 1.

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In 2011, when asked about the recently announced Dia:Beacon retrospective of his work, his first in North America in more than three decades, Carl Andre told Randy Kennedy of The New York Times that he had informed the Dia curators, “I can’t stop you from doing it, but don’t expect me to do anything to help.” As it turned out, this wasn’t true; according to Yasmil Raymond, the co-curator of the show, he cooperated plenty. “He had to endure our visits almost every month,” she said a few days before the show’s public opening, “and he came here three times to see the installation.”

The result of more than three years of hard work on the part of Raymond and Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles Philippe Vergne, “Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010,” which will be on view until next March before traveling to other venues, stretches over six galleries and two floors.

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Three of the four artists who resigned from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ board in 2012 are returning in support of the institution’s new director, Philippe Vergne. John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, and Catherine Opie will be joined by the board’s newest member, the Los Angeles-based artist Mark Grotjahn. Ed Ruscha, who also resigned in 2012, is currently serving on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s board. Ruscha did join Baldessari, Kruger, and Opie as a volunteer on the search committee that MOCA formed to find a successor to Jeffrey Deitch, the former New York City art dealer who announced his resignation from his post as the museum’s director in July 2013.

Deitch’s tenure at MOCA was plagued by criticism. After firing longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel in 2012, Baldessari, Kruger, Opie, and Ruscha resigned from the board, leaving it void of artist representation. While the museum was in poor financial standing when Deitch came on board, the museum continued to fall into financial despair during his time as director.

Vergne, who comes to MOCA from the Dia Art Foundation in New York, has an extensive background in museum administration both in the U.S. and Europe. When the museum announced Vergne’s appointment back in January, Baldessari, Kruger, Opie, and Ruscha all expressed enthusiasm for the hire. In addition, his appointment came on the heels of the museum’s announcement that it had reached its goal of a $100 million endowment, most of which was raised in the past year.

Vergne said, “For me it is extremely important to have artists represented on the board. MOCA was founded by artists, patrons and civic leaders as the artist’s museum, and its incredible collection and record of groundbreaking exhibitions pay testament to that. It is a privilege to join MOCA with our new and returning trustees at the moment when MOCA is stronger than ever before.”

MOCA has included artists on its board since 1980, a year after the museum’s founding. 

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The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has concluded its six-month search for a director to replace Jeffrey Deitch, who stepped down last summer. On January 15, the institution announced that it had selected Philippe Vergne, director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York, for the role.

French-born Vergne is a veteran curator and has an extensive background in museum administration both in the U.S. and in Europe. He served as the director of the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Marseille from 1994 to 1997 and in 2005, he was named  deputy director and chief curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Vergne has been at the helm of the Dia Art Foundation since 2008.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is emerging from a tumultuous period, largely caused by Deitch’s tenure at the institution. Deitch was plagued by criticism after he fired longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel in 2012. Following Schimmel’s departure, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger resigned from the museum’s board, leaving it void of artist representation. All four artists were on the director search committee. The museum released a statement saying that Baldessari, Ruscha, Opie and Kruger all expressed enthusiasm for the hire.

Vergne’s appointment comes on the heels of the museum’s announcement that it had reached its goal of a $100 million endowment, most of which was raised in the past year.

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The Dia Art Foundation, which closed its two galleries in Manhattan in 2004, has gathered about half the money needed to build its new space in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. While the organization has pushed their fundraising efforts into high gear, they are left without an acquisition fund for its collection, which includes works from the 1960s to the present.

The Dia Art Foundation announced that they will be holding a sale of paintings and sculptures at Sotheby’s in New York on November 13-14, 2013 to remedy that. The foundation hopes to raise at least $20 million by auctioning off works by Cy Twombly (1928-2011), John Chamberlain (1927-2011) and Barnett Newman (1905-1970).

The Dia Art Foundation’s collection includes works by modern and contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol (1921-1987), Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) and Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Philippe Vergne, the Dia’s director, has not commented on what works he’s hoping to acquired with the funds from the Sotheby’s sale.

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