An Oxymoron

1960s 1970s Artists Collection Collectors

A drunken Claes Oldenberg makes an impression on Malcolm Kamin.

In the back of the pickup truck that we drove over there in was Claes Oldenburg, who was involved in the opening because—For the opening and for about three or four years thereafter, Claes painted a mural on the chimney of the building, which was immediately across the alley to the east of the old MCA. And Claes was a little drunk and he kept repeating, "A Museum of Contemporary Art is an oxymoron. A Museum of Contemporary Art is an oxymoron. It can't be contemporary if it's in a museum." So that has always been part of the dilemma, if you will, of the MCA. Are we a museum or are we a kunsthalle? And we've had this—the debate's gone on for a long, long time. But I never forgot that and never forgot the kind of dilemma or ambiguity that it posed.

So as I say, we got involved very early on. We were also involved—and it started almost right away thereafter in the Collector's Forum, which was the—really was a lot of fun. This was the group that has now become Emerge, but the concept of it being a Collector's Forum was if you belonged to the Collector's Forum you one, had an interest in collecting art, and two, you would host a meeting. So you went around to everybody's collections who was in the Collector's Forum, and you would see their collections and then the group would generally go out for dinner somewhere in the vicinity of wherever the collector lived.

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