Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA is the venue of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles dedicated to the most recent artistic trends.
Above. the entrance of the Geffen Contemporary; photo CTG/SF (CC BY-NC 2.0).
Building and site
With over 40,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Geffen is the MOCA’s largest venue. Located in L.A.’s Little Tokyo District, the museum opened in 1983 as an interim exhibition space, called The Temporary Contemporary, to be used during the MOCA Grand Avenue construction.
Formerly a police car warehouse, the building of the museum was renovated after a design by famed Canadian-American architect Frank O. Gehry and renamed The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in 1996 after a substantial monetary donation by the David Geffen Foundation.
In 2015, the plaza and the steel-and-canvas canopy on the west side of the museum were redesigned by Gehry together with FER Architects.
Since 2018, the Geffen Contemporary north facade is painted with a large mural by Barbara Kruger, called “Untitled (Questions)”; the painting is actually a reprise of a work the artist created for the museum in the early 1990s.
Since its opening, Geffen Contemporary has been intentionally kept as a rather spartan venue that still reminds its original function of a warehouse. Yet, in 2019, it was announced a $5M project aimed to renovate and expand the museum, as well as to add new performance-oriented spaces and a restaurant in the near future.
The north facade of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA with the mural “Untitled (Questions)” by Barbara Kruger, 1990-2018. Photo Waltarrrrr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
What to see at MOCA Geffen
As mentioned earlier, while the MOCA Grand in downtown L.A. focuses more on established artists, the MOCA Geffen is devoted to young and emerging artists, as well as to cutting-edge trends in contemporary art. Thanks to its sizeable spaces, the MOCA Geffen is ideal for large-scale sculptures and multi-media installations, and frequently accommodates site-specific installations and specially-commissioned artworks.
Since 2018, the MOCA Geffen is also the main venue of Wonmi’s WAREHOUSE, an experimental art program featuring mostly live performances, ephemeral installations, film screenings, concerts, artist talks, and readings.
Additional services and activities
Along with temporary exhibitions, the MOCA Geffen hosts special events, performances, and lectures. The museum building includes a coffee bar and a gift shop.
A panoramic view of the museum’s interior. Photo Eli Carrico (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Doug Aitken: Electro Earth, installation view, Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 2016-2017; courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo by Joshua White.
Zoe Leonard: Survey, installation view, 2018–2019. Photo by Brian Forrest
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