For the Los Angeles MOCA Art In The Streets...show's elaborate opening act, (Jeffrey) Deitch commissioned a young, exciting, international talent to make the entire north wall of MOCA's Geffen Contemporary his canvas. It was a bold move - and it was where the reality of street art began to collide with Deitch's dream exhibition.
Enter the Italian muralist Blu, who created a work of coffins draped in dollar bills in December. Unsanctioned by the museum and started in Deitch's absence, the director found it insensitive to the surrounding Little Tokyo neighborhood and the nearby veteran's memorial, and ordered it painted over.
As Deitch explained in a recent interview with LA Weekly, "Blu's idea when he is invited to do a wall is an opportunity to create a challenging, troublesome situation, not thinking that he's one of 100-plus people in a joint effort - the point being to come together to make a bigger thing for everybody, not to do something that undermines the whole project."
Destruction of the mural brought a thunderstorm of protest from some fans of street art. Others understood that if you choose to do art paid for by an institution, you have to play nice.
*An excerpt from "Anarchy at the MOCA, How Jeffrey Deitch convinced an outlaw art movement to show itself for the landmark retrospective Art In The Streets" by Shelly Leopold (LA Weekly, April 15-21, 2011 / Vol.33 / No.21