The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles announced on Friday that Helen Molesworth has been selected as their new Chief Curator. Her appointment will begin on September 1st 2014.
Molesworth comes to Los Angeles from the Institute of Contemporary Arts / Boston where she had served as the Barbara Lee Chief Curator since 2010. Before that, she helmed the department of modern and contemporary art at the Harvard Art Museum, and served as the museum’s Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art. Prior to her role at Harvard, Molesworth was chief curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH.
The announcement comes shortly after MOCA’s appointment of Philippe Vergne as director in March. The museum’s previous director, the divisive former dealer Jeffrey Deitch, resigned last July after a turbulent three-year stint that saw the resignation of all four artists on MOCA’s board as well as the ouster of long-time Chief Curator Paul Schimmel. These two recent appointments, as well as the raising of MOCA’s endowment to $100 million in January, may signal a comeback for the museum after recent financial setbacks and crises in leadership.
Molesworth has been responsible for a number of well-received exhibitions including This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, a re-appraisal of visual arts in the US during that period. She has also organized and contributed to monographic shows on Catherine Opie, Zoe Leonard, Amy Sillman, and Luc Tuymans among others. A Kerry James Marshall retrospective she guest-curated for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago will travel to MOCA in 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“She curates transversally; meaning that she does not follow beaten, fashionable paths but knows how to open new roads, diverse roads with integrity and rigor,” remarked new MOCA director Vergne. “She is a marvelous scholar and writer and knows how to listen, work and dialogue with artists.”
Molesworth’s recent Artforum review of the Whitney Biennial may give some indication of the curatorial vision she will be bringing to MOCA.