Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities

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The resurgence of ethnic consciousness over the past decade has had a profound effect on many Jewish artists, writers, performers, and the Jewish community at large. Surprisingly, however, Jewish identity remains one of the least explored terrains in contemporary discussions of multiculturalism and identity-based art. Too Jewish? takes a fresh, often confrontational and sometimes humorous, approach to newly considered representations of Jewish identity.

This book, accompanied by a major exhibition at The Jewish Museum, New York, places the Jewish identity subjects in the recent art of such artists as Deborah Kass, Rona Pondick, Archie Rand, Elaine Reichek, Art Spiegelman, Hannah Wilke, and others within a larger continuum of influences ranging from nineteenth-century art history to twentieth-century media and pop culture. Essays by major writers explore the historic and scientific roots of the construction of the Jew's otherness, assimilation strategies, and stereotypes inherent in past and present definitions of Jewish masculinity and femininity.

The contributors include cultural critic Maurice Berger, sociologist Sander L. Gilman, playwright Tony Kushner, art theorist Rhonda Lieberman, art historian Margaret Olin, and anthropologist Riv-Ellen Prell. Renowned art historian Linda Nochlin provides a clever and highly personal foreword that captures her complicated reaction to the Hasidic-inspired clothing from Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall 1993 collection.

The exhibition curator and editor of this work, Norman L. Kleeblatt, offers an insightful introduction on the complex history of post war Jewish identity and its impact on visual artists. This is a lively and provocative book that offers a unique critical perspective on Jewish identity, multiculturalism, or contemporary art.


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