The MOCA (aka Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) is a unique treasure for many reasons. It’s the only artist-founded museum in LA, and the first art-founded museum I’ve actually EVER heard of. While it does collect and exhibit contemporary art like most museums...it’s rare in the sense it has exhibitions and works from artists in the primary market.
What does that mean? It means some of the works that grace their walls you could currently buy from galleries...they’re not quite going at auction for millions and millions of dollars.
The MOCA also has a very famous director - Klaus Biesenbach.
When I visited during Frieze LA in 2019, they had a few different exhibitions:
Manny Farber and Termite Art
This exhibit was inspired by the famous American painter and film critic Manny Farber. He wrote an essay titled “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art” (1962),” which was against the concept of ‘art as a masterpiece’ and for art to be based on observation and experiences within this world.
“One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art features approximately thirty artists and more than 100 works of painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, and sound dating from the 1950s to the present.”
Some artists featured in the show are Dike Blair, Jordan Casteel, Manny Farber, Fischli & Weiss, Jennifer Guidi, Catherine Opie, Lorna Simpson, Becky Suss, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jonas Wood and many more.
“Farber championed art that was committed to observation, deep attention, and the unique temporalities of the quotidian”
“Most of the feckless, listless quality of today’s art can be blamed on its drive to break out of tradition while, irrationally, hewing to the square, boxed-in shape and gemlike inertia of an old, densely wrought European masterpiece.” - White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art
“The most inclusive description of the art is that termite-like, it feels its way through walls of particularization, with no sign that the artist has any object in mind other than eating away the immediate boundaries of his art and turning those boundaries into conditions of the next achievement.” - White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art
Selections from the Permanent Collection
The MOCA has over 7,000 objects that make up its permanent collection and this exhibit highlights it’s “landmark works of post-war art, long-time visitor favorites, and recent acquisitions.”
"I never feel age...If you have creative work, you don't have age or time." - Louise Nevelson
"You paint the way you have to in order to give. That's life itself, and someone will look and say it is the product of knowing, but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving." - Franz Kline
"I'm interested in what would normally be considered the worst aspects of commercial art. I think it's the tension between what seems to be so rigid and cliched and the fact that art really can't be this way." - Roy Lichtenstein
“I'm not an abstractionist. I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” - Mark Rothko
40 for LA
40 for LA celebrates the forty-year history of MOCA.