Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Josh Kornbluth at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, January 2009

Josh Kornbluth is doing a new show on Andy Warhol's '10 Jews' exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum on January 10, 11, 17, and 18. Here's what Josh says about the show:

In 1980 Andy Warhol -- then at a low ebb in his storied career -- was commissioned to do portraits of 10 famous Jews of the 20th century. As a mnemonic device, I have grouped these 10 into pairs (regardless of whether they actually belong together):

Rhapsody in Lou: George Gershwin & Louis Brandeis.
Acting Out: Sigmund Freud & Sarah Bernhardt.
I & Thou & Thou & Thou: Martin Buber & The Marx Brothers.
Ein/Stein: Gertrude Stein & Albert Einstein.
Metameirphosis: Golda Meir & Franz Kafka.

When the portraits originally were shown, they were greeted (for the most part) with great disdain by the critics and with great joy by the people who flocked to see them at various Jewish institutions. One of the things that is so fascinating about the "Warhol's Jews" installation at the CJM is that it is really an exhibit not only of the artworks themselves, but also of how they were conceived and received. It also raises the question of what it means to be showing them again now, 28 years later, when Martin Buber's masterwork "I and Thou" (for example) may no longer be in the forefront of everyone's consciousness. (He certainly wasn't in mine, until I started working on this piece. Now it's all Buber, all the time!)

And who was Andy Warhol? And why did this practicing Catholic choose to do portraits of 10 famous Jews? And why these Jews? And why is a Jew ending this paragraph with yet another question?

I'll tell you why: I don't yet know the answers. I keep returning to the CJM, revisiting "Warhol's Jews" (and their other fine exhibits), and sipping a meditative matzoh-ball soup in the museum café as I ponder Warholosity, Jewishness, and 10-ism. I can't promise to have solved every conundrum by the time my piece opens on Jan. 10 -- or even by the last performance, on Jan. 18 -- but I can promise that the presentation will look and sound fantastic, as I am working with some of my favorite collaborators: designer Alex Nichols, composer Marco d'Ambrosio, director David Dower, and producer Jonny Reinis. I can also promise that your attendance will warm the heart of my brand-new company, Quixotic Projects; this piece is our first commissioned work!
If you're in the Bay Area, I hope you can catch one of these performances -- each of which will be followed by me interviewing a terrific expert on one of the portrait subjects. Your ticket will also get you into the museum, where you can wander, observe, slurp, and kibbitz in their spectacular new building. I look forward to seeing you there!

Let me know if you want to join me and I'll get tix!

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