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storefront: Noah Davis: Imitation of Wealth Installation View 01

Installation view of storefront: Noah Davis: Imitation of Wealth, August 29, 2015 – February 29, 2016 at MOCA Grand Avenue, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Fredrik Nilsen

storefront: Noah Davis: Imitation of Wealth

One of the unique characteristics of the contemporary art scene in Los Angeles is the proliferation of artist-run spaces, many of which are located in storefronts across the city. MOCA was founded by artists and, due to its philosophy of placing artists at the center of its mission, has long been known as "the artist's museum." Storefront continues this tradition by inviting two artist-run organizations to take over MOCA's Marcia Simon Weisman Works on Paper Study Center each year.

Founded in 2012, The Underground Museum is a storefront space developed by artist Noah Davis. Located at 3508 West Washington Avenue in Los Angeles's Arlington Heights neighborhood, The Underground Museum has a gallery space, offices that serve as editing suites and a painting studio, and an outdoor garden which hosts parties, events, and film screenings. Davis wanted to bring what he called "museum-quality art" to a traditionally African American and Latino working-class neighborhood. However, when The Underground Museum first opened, no museums were willing to lend such works. Undaunted, Davis decided to recreate iconic artworks by famous artists such as Marcel Duchamp, On Kawara, and Jeff Koons. The title for his inaugural exhibition, Imitation of Wealth, alludes to Douglas Sirk's classic film Imitation of Life (1959), a pre-civil rights era melodrama about passing. Just as the film's protagonist pretends to be white in order to escape the fate of the second-class citizenship offered to African Americans, the works in the exhibition masquerade as famous works of art in an attempt to break down the traditional class and ethnic barriers to high culture. Irreverent and tongue-in-cheek, Imitation of Wealth stages many of art's time-honored questions about the nature of truth and authenticity.

storefront: Noah Davis: Imitation of Wealth is located on MOCA’s plaza level and publicly viewable at any time of day. 

Generous support is provided by the Aileen Getty Foundation.