Is Josh Kornbluth Good for the Jews?


Josh Kornbluth's show is drawing crowds of young Jews to the Contemporary Jewish Museum.  “Andy Warhol; Good for the Jews?” is Kornbluth’s first commissioned piece and coincides with the museum’s new exhibit -- “Warhol’s Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered.

Kornbluth's shows  -- “Red Diaper Baby” and “Haiku Tunnel” (which became  films), “The Mathematics of Change”, “Ben Franklin: Unplugged” and most recently "Citizen Josh" -- are all funny forays into Jewish anxiety, self-doubt and nebbishiness, most often by way of intellectual curiosity and father-son fixations.

In this new show, Kornbluth weaves various threads, from Warhol’s work as a pop artist and outsider to the theme of Jewish otherness and his own personal experiences. In his usual manner of stream-of-conscious, Kornbluth responds to the museum’s Warhol exhibit - like he’s your funny friend strolling through it with you. The guard at the door checking our bags? Looking for Jewish baggage, Kornbluth figures. Andy Warhol’s Jews?  “I hadn’t realized Warhol kept Jews,” Kornbluth quips.

Backed by a projection of the ten portraits, Korbluth talks about each one - the choice in subjects, Warhol’s choice of colors and mostly what the silk-screens say to him personally. He tells us tid-bits about the famous Jews—Golda Meier, Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Gertrude Stein and fills us in on Warhol’s odd disorder, St. Vitus' dance, which caused him to lose his hair.

All of this makes for a pretty interesting meditation on historically notable Jewish figures seen through the lens of the iconoclastic Warhol. But as far as Kornbluthia is concerned,  it's hard not to keep in mind that this is very much a commissioned work and not a monologue coming at us from the recesses of the Josh consciousness.

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