The New Authen­tics: Artists of the Post-Jew­ish Generation

Staci Boris
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

This exhi­bi­tion cat­a­log — Sper­tus Muse­um, Chica­go; The Rose Art Muse­um, Bran­deis Uni­ver­si­ty — as oth­ers, is an atyp­i­cal book. Fol­low­ing its fron­tispiece, it opens with a small group of arti­cles clar­i­fy­ing Post-Jew­ish,” its snap-to title, derived from Too Jew­ish: Chal­leng­ing Tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish Iden­ti­ties,” the title of an exhi­bi­tion at The Jew­ish Muse­um in New York twelve years ago. Sper­tus cura­tor Staci Boris and oth­ers cov­er the nature of Jew­ish iden­ti­ty and the rifts and fis­sures in the Jew­ish nar­ra­tive. Effec­tive, if famil­iar, his­tor­i­cal illus­tra­tions punc­tu­ate an essay by Dr. Stephen J. White­field, pro­fes­sor of Amer­i­can Stud­ies at Brandeis. 

Brief descrip­tions accom­pa­ny each of six­teen artists’ work. Gen­er­al­ly, this com­men­tary is clear, avoid­ing the fre­quent ascents into ver­bal clouds that so often swirl through art criticism. 

Instal­la­tion art, oils, pas­tels, pho­tomon­tages, pro­duc­tion stills, sil­ver prints, acrylics, rep­re­sent­ing almost every cur­rent tool for graph­ic expres­sion, are the media. Artists’ bio­graph­i­cal details appear in the clos­ing pages. Some works are wit­ty, oth­ers are a reach or trendy; very lit­tle is love­ly; poignan­cy is absent, so is nudi­ty. In an over­size for­mat, the cat­a­log has inter­est­ing­ly-designed typog­ra­phy and all works which had been cre­at­ed in col­or are print­ed in col­or, a def­i­nite plus. Data on all — size, media — are given. 

With a skin­ny, cig­a­rette-smok­ing rab­bini­cal stu­dent in full tra­di­tion­al garb on the cov­er, com­bined with its title, The New Authen­tics: Artists in the Post-Jew­ish Gen­er­a­tion, this pub­li­ca­tion will cer­tain­ly gen­er­ate read­er atten­tion. Acknowl­edge­ment, biogra­phies, fore­word, 142 illustrations. 

Arlene B. Soifer earned degrees in Eng­lish, and has had many years of expe­ri­ence as a free­lance writer, edi­tor, and pub­lic rela­tions professional.

Discussion Questions