There’s a video of the mural being painted over on the ArtInfo page.
Not sure what the Blu’s (the muralist) agreement with MOCA looked like, but something tells me he waived any claim he might have had.
Jeffrey Deitch, director of MOCA, was a big proponent of the 1980’s street art scene in New York City, championing artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat. For sure many people will start throwing names around and calling him a hypocrite. This would be misguided.
Apparently, in the nearby Japanese community, there is a monument entitled “Go For Broke” honoring Japanese Americans who died fighting during World War Two. Blu’s mural depicted a repeating pattern of caskets with dollar bill flags draped over them as you would expect an American flag to be for a military burial. While the mural likely refers to America’s own economic death, it was being perceived in relation to the nearby monument.
Opponents of this censorship will argue that everyone can see the difference between the mural and the war monument. And yes, maybe this could have been handled through a press statement or other communication on behalf of the museum. Regardless, I personally would not write Deitch off for this decision. He had to make a act quickly and did what he thought best under the circumstances.
Deitch burned a bridge with the muralist. What remains to be seen is how other artists will react to (and understand) the choice to paint over the mural rather than pursue alternative means of political resolution. This is a very unfortunate situation. Let’s other artists will recognize that Deitch was in a tough spot and be a bit forgiving.