If you’re into meek, kitsch, and self-deprecating work, you’ll hit the jackpot at The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s current exhibition, Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show. Although Leibowitz’s work has been included in approximately one hundred and fifty group exhibitions and featured in nearly forty solo exhibitions, this is his first wide-ranging and solo museum exhibition. People see his expression of insecurities and social skepticism as an unveiling of an identity one usually keys away from the public eye. He became known in the early 1990’s as “Candyass”.
The work seems to celebrate ineptitude caused by depression or social deprivation but it can also be seen as a critique of pretentiousness. It all depends on the viewer provoking the age-old question, “What is art?” and who defines it. Is it art because the museum says so? He certainly explores the vanity of it all in many of his pieces in not-so-subtle ways. One piece has modern art written on it and prices slashed down to 5cents.
It’s sarcastic and also reminiscent of the, “I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!” days of elementary school. One of his canvasses has only two words; “Fat and Ugly” divided by a line and painted in green on a yellow canvas. He’s taking hurtful words and owning it.
One can come to several conclusions about the artist when viewing the exhibit. In viewing the work you might think he’s depressed and holed up at home sprawling, “I hate myself” on cheap china all day but then you think, he has an art show at a museum, with work my kid might be able to re-produce. Yeah, he’s not a loser, pretty funny, and some might say, genius.
The exhibition features nearly 350 original artworks and multiples from 1987 to the present. You can catch it now until June 25, 2017. Go judge for yourself and leave a note, your words might end up in his next show.
THE CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM
736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tickets range from $5 to $14 at https://www.thecjm.org