May 29, 2018

Turmoil continues at MOCA in Los Angeles as director Philippe Vergne departs.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) announced Friday that director Philippe Vergne is leaving the institution, with the announcement coming just two months after the controversial firing of chief curator Helen Molesworth. The museum has declined to renew Vergne five-year contract, and the decision is a mutual one, the Los Angeles Times reported. In April, the paper fueled speculation that Vergne would step aside after reporting that he had put his $4 million Los Angeles home on the market not long after Molesworth was let go. Her firing came a few months after Mark Grotjahn withdrew from the MOCA gala over a lack of diversity in past honorees—a move that forced the museum to cancel a fundraiser that typically brings in millions—and drew fierce criticism from the art world luminaries who commended Molesworth’s dedication to staging exhibitions dedicated to women and artists of color.
The search for a new director will be led by a committee of board members. The Times reported that Christopher Bedford, the director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, is a candidate. But artist Lari Pittman, a board member who resigned this spring, told the paper Vergne’s departure offered MOCA the opportunity to chart a different path.
"Sadly inevitable news but a more hopeful prognosis for MOCA,” he said. “Time to hire a woman as director!"