Early life and education
Deitch (pronounced DIE-tch) was born in 1952 and grew up in Connecticut, where his father ran a heating-oil and coal company and his mother was an economist. He attended public high school in West Hartford, Connecticut, from 1967 to 1970. He was an exchange student in Paris in 1968, and in Japan in 1969. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1974 and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1978.
Deitch opened his first gallery as a college student in 1972 at the Curtis Hotel, a rented hotel parlor in Lenox, Massachusetts, and sold out the first week. Later he worked as a receptionist at John Weber Gallery in SoHo. From 1979 to 1988, Deitch helped develop and co-manage the art advisory and art finance department at Citibank. In 1980, he became a regular columnist of Flash Art and the first U.S. editor of Flash Art International.
From 1988 to 1996 Deitch was a successful private dealer and art adviser to a number of collectors, including Jose Mugrabi. In 1989 he bid US$10.5 million and paid $11.55 million for Jackson Pollock's silvery No. 8, 1950, then a record at auction for a work by the artist and the second-highest price at auction for a work by any contemporary artist.
In 1996 Deitch opened the Deitch Projects gallery in the Soho section of New York City. His first shows included works by Vanessa Beecroft, Jocelyn Taylor, Nari Ward, and Mariko Mori. Soon after, he bought the building housing Canal Lumber, a bigger space around the corner on Wooster Street. The first major exhibition project there was of a Barbara Kruger video-and-slide-projection show in the fall of 1997.
An early advocate of graffiti art in the 1980s, he introduced New York to street art, which had originated in San Francisco in the 1990s among artists on the fringe of the skateboard scene. Deitch became well known as a supporter of young artists like Kehinde Wiley and Cecily Brown, while also representing the work of more established artists like Keith Haring and Jeff Koons (Deitch threw Koons' 50th birthday party). In 2006, he bought Bridget Riley's Untitled (Diagonal Curve) (1966), at Sotheby's for $2.1 million, nearly three times its $730,000 high estimate and also a record for the artist. In 2009, he wrote the strategic plan for the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Deitch Projects was closed in 2010 after Deitch's appointment to MOCA. Deitch also resigned from the authentication committee of the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat; he was a close friend of the artist.
There was controversy about Deitch's tenure at MOCA. In 2012 Deitch fired MOCA's longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel, leading to the resignation of four MOCA board members – artists John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, and Catherine Opie – in protest. As of 2015[update] Deitch lived in an 8,000-square-foot house in Los Feliz, Los Angeles formerly owned by Cary Grant.
Return to New York
In 2015, Deitch began hosting shows at 76 Grand Street, one of his former gallery spaces. In July 2016, he reopened his Lower Manhattan gallery at 18 Wooster Street, the space he ran from 1996 to 2010 and rented out to the Swiss Institute for the following five years.
- Mike Boehm (2003-07-23). "Jeffrey Deitch resigns as head of L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
- Mike Boehm (January 12, 2010), L.A.'s MOCA picks art dealer Jeffrey Deitch as director Los Angeles Times.
- Carl Swanson (January 13, 2014), Jeffrey Deitch Curates Jeffrey Deitch: The Return of the Art World’s Most Essential Zelig New York Magazine.
- JEFFREY DEITCH with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro The Brooklyn Rail, October 3, 2013.
- Randy Kennedy (June 30, 2010), Museum Role Fits a Former Art Dealer New York Times.
- Cathleen McGuigan (February 10, 1985), New Art, New Money New York Times.
- Calvin Tomkins (November 12, 2007), Onward and Upward with the Arts The New Yorker, p. 65.
- Rita Reif (May 3, 1989), Pollock Price Among Records at Sotheby's New York Times.
- Roberta Smith (May 26, 1996), The Gallery Doors Open to the Long Denied New York Times.
- Roberta Smith (January 11, 2010), A New Boss, and a Jolt of Real-World Expertise New York Times.
- Alexandra Peers (January 20, 2010), How Jeffrey Deitch’s MOCA Appointment Changes the Art World New York Magazine.
- Carol Vogel (June 26, 2006), Prosperity Sets the Tone at London Auctions New York Times.
- Carol Vogel and Randy Kennedy (January 11, 2010), Los Angeles Museum Taps Dealer as Director New York Times.
- "Art Dealer Deitch Named to Run L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art". Bloomberg. January 11, 2010.
- Guy Trebay (April 22, 2011), A Risk-Taker’s Debut New York Times.
- Dan Duray and Gareth Harris (July 8, 2016), Jeffrey Deitch makes SoHo comeback The Art Newspaper.