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Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities Hardcover – October 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this companion volume to a major exhibition currently on display at the Jewish Museum of New York, artists, including Deborah Kass, Rona Pondick, Archie Rand, Art Spiegelman, and Hannah Wilke explore Jewish identity through contemporary art and pop culture. The illustrations are thought-provoking, sometimes quite humorous, and usually very off-beat. The illustrations aim to make the viewer uncomfortable enough to reflect on identity. Like any minority, American Jews have never felt completely at peace in the host culture. They have often used humor to deal with the conflicts and pressures involved in conforming to the dominant norm. Editor and curator Kleeblatt also offers incisive essays by cultural critic Maurice Berger, sociologist Sander Gilman, playwright Tony Kushner, and other major voices about being Jewish today. The book is ably produced with a clean, easy-to-read layout. There are copious notes and bibliographies after each essay to point the way for readers interested in further research. Recommended for libraries strong in the arts or serving a Jewish clientele.
Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., Ill.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813523265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813523262
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,146,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Norman L. Kleeblatt is the Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator of The Jewish Museum, New York. Kleeblatt curated the exhibition "Action/Abstraction: Pollock, De Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976" (Jewish Museum 2008) and edited the catalogue that accompanied the show, which traveled to Saint Louis Art Museum and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2008-2009). "Action/Abstraction" won numerous awards including Best Thematic Museum Show in New York City from The International Art Critics Association (2009); Outstanding Exhibition (Eastern Time Zone) from the Association of Art Museum Curators (2009). The exhibition catalogue also received an honorable mention from the Banister Fletcher Award committee (2009). Among Kleeblatt's numerous other exhibitions are: "The Dreyfus Affair: Art, Truth and Justice" (1987); "Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities" (1996); "John Singer Sargent: Portraits of the Wertheimer Family" (2000), and "Theaters of Memory: Art and the Holocaust" (2008). He was co-curator for "An Expressionist in Paris: The Paintings of Chaim Soutine" (1998) and "Painting a Place in America: Jewish Artists in New York, 1900-1945" (1991). Kleeblatt's articles have appeared in Art in America, Artforum, Art Journal, and Art News. He has been honored with support from the Getty Research Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Mr. Kleeblatt currently serves on the boards of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics of the New School and the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on February 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
This generous book is the catalogue from the terrific installation of the same name held at The Jewish Museum, New York, in 1996. The exhibition tackled questions of how assimilated postwar American Jews view themselves, how the larger culture (media in particular) has viewed them, and - with humor and utter seriousness, often together - the awesome power of stereotyping on Jews as well as all peoples regarded as "other." There is serious analysis that is by turns insightful, imaginative, even fanciful - and fabulous and absorbing visuals, too.
The cover illustration is a detail from artist Deborah Kass' ironic silkscreen of multiple Barbra Streisands as Yentl, in "Triple Silver Yentl (My Elvis)." It's the tip of the iceberg. Other pieces (pictured in color) are similarly trenchant commentary. Art Spiegelman's "Preliminary Sketch for Maus: A Survivor's Tale"; Ilene Seagalove's "Jewish Boys," Kenneth Goldsmith's memorial plaque - to Bob Dylan (also Allen Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman), and more. There are eight essays, accompanied by color and black and white illustrations, and 36 color plates - photos of the artwork of the exhibition -at the book's end. It can hardly be considered only a catalogue. Norman Kleeblatt's overview, "'Passing' Into Multiculturalism" is a great long essay that uses loads of examples from visual art and literature to make its points about the effect of perceptions of 'otherness' and its companion, assimilation. Art historian Margaret Olin writes on Clement Greenberg, formalist criticism, and Jewish identity. Dr.
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