, the director for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
, is on his phone discussing large sums of money. He apparently does this a lot. “That’s twenty million, plus the seven million that’s already been raised,” he says, pacing around his office. “It’s doable!” He hangs up and an assistant hands him an apple. “Lunch,” he explains, smiling. “I hope you don’t mind.” It’s 6.00pm. Straight after this interview, he has to press the flesh at a private opening of a new LACMA exhibition on the Dwan Gallery, the New York and LA galleries created by art dealer Virginia Dwan
, which defined the postwar era. [See & Read More]
LA, you may have heard, is in the throes of a renaissance, and Mr. Govan is at its epicentre, both geographically and logistically. As the driving force behind LACMA’s $650m new building, which will transform the centre of the city, he’s in constant motion between artists and city planners, movie stars and the mayor, academics and Las Vegas billionaires. He’s a new kind of museum director, dapper and tireless, with perfect manners. He always wears a suit – Prada, Tom Ford or Boglioli – with R.M.Williams Chelsea boots. He’s often seen at The Tower Bar, the West Hollywood hotspot for LA’s elite, or posing for pictures with Messrs Leonardo DiCaprio and Kanye West at one of his star-studded fundraisers. In a city of celebrities, Mr Govan has become one. He and his elegant wife, Ms Katherine Ross, a luxury brand consultant, are red-carpet regulars at the Oscars and beyond.
“People ask when I’m going to move back to New York, but why would I?” he smiles. “I love it here.” While New Yorkers often sneer at LA as a crass commercial cousin of their soaring metropolis, Mr Govan thinks the opposite. He was wooed here in 2006, having cut his teeth at The Guggenheim and the Dia Art Foundation, and has since become its biggest fan – an LA evangelist.
“There’s this perception that it’s simplistic and selfish, which goes with celebrity and the movie industry,” he says. “But it’s the complexity that you move here for. It’s so big and chaotic, and certainly the most diverse. There are more creative people here than anywhere – not just artists but songwriters, movie producers. It’s a soup. And relative to the East Coast, I actually find a lot of generosity and openness here, a good-natured spirit. People are genuinely trying to make the world a better place.” And yet we also have TMZ. “That’s the cool thing. It all exists simultaneously here.”
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[via Mr. Porter]