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.