Jeffrey Deitch is one of the major players in the US art scene and runs the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. In his interview he explains why the work of sculptor and artist Theaster Gates is avant-garde
For more than four decades now, Jeffrey Deitch has been a major player in the US art scene. The dealer, advisor, writer and exhibition organizer started his career in the New York of the 70s when the art community was still very small. Back then he was connected to the collectors, writers, framers and gallery owners as well as most of the rising artists at that time such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. Meanwhile Jeffrey Deitch himself has become a household name in the world of art.
After successfully running Deitch Projects in New York for 14 years, he became the first gallery owner/private art dealer to run an American museum, the Los Angeles MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art). During Art Miami Basel last December he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about what avant-garde can be these days. “One of the most interesting things about art today,” he says, “is the changing status of the avant-garde. (…) For me, the biggest achievement in art is not to just make a fresh, compelling image, a new sculptural form. It’s to expand the definition of what art can be and what an artist is. And that’s what Theaster Gates is doing.”
Theaster Gates is a trained urban planner and sculptor, who works as artist and director of the Arts and Public Life Initiative at the University of Chicago. In his performances, installations, and urban interventions, Gates aims to push positive community change by transforming spaces, institutions, traditions, and perceptions. “I’m more and more invested in the idea of expressing the real thing versus a gestural attempt reflecting on the real thing,” he explains his approach.
When Theaster is not making art for museums, he is committed to the restoration of poor neighborhoods, converting abandoned buildings into cultural spaces that allow not only new cultural moments to happen in unexpected places, but raising the city’s expectations of where “place-making” happens and why.
Find out more about Jeffrey Deitch and Theaster Gates
Editorial Lead Kitty Bolhoefer / Filming & Photos Fridolin Schöpper / Editing Konterfei / Music BUNNYSTRIPES