January 12, 2017 - The Contemporary Jewish Museum - Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show
January 12, 2017

The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Cary Leibowitz, Self Esteem 5 Cents, 1995. Latex paint on wood panel, 11.25 x 105.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist and INVISIBLE-EXPORTS. 

Cary Leibowitz
Museum Show
January 26–June 25, 2017

The Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States
Hours: Thursday 11am–8pm,
Friday–Tuesday 11am–5pm

T +1 415 655 7800
F +1 415 655 1515

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Paintings that say, “Here I am please don’t be mean” and “I just got a pair of Gucci for Bergdorfs loafers for 50% off and I really do feel better.” A white porcelain fish-shaped dish that reads, “Fucked up homo bar-mitzvah gay boy worries too much about what his mother will wear.” Knit caps with “Fran Drescher Fan Club” emblazoned on the front and foam footballs that read, “Candyass Sissy.”

New York–based contemporary artist Cary Leibowitz (b. 1963) creates comic, text-based works with an emphatically gay and often Jewish perspective that address issues of identity, kitsch, modernist critique, and queer politics. Since the early 1990s, when he became widely known under the moniker “Candyass,” Leibowitz has, as his gallery INVISIBLE-EXPORTS states, “created unmistakable work that is the product of a riveting and consistent practice—driven by anxieties, neuroses, and premonitions of difference—that transform self-doubt and social skepticism into something much larger than niche art-world critique: a heartrending and intimate meditation on our inescapable secret doubleness.”

With a preference for lowbrow aesthetics and threadbare materials, Leibowitz creates work with a bold, cartoon-like quality: pop colors are combined with a childish scrawl, proclaiming abundant displays of insecurity and exposing simplistic raw truths about contemporary society.

The exhibition, the first career survey and solo museum show of Leibowitz’s work to date, features nearly 350 original artworks from 1987 to the present: paintings, fabric works, multiples, installations, documentation, photography, and ephemera. 

“This retrospective is the first of many original monographic shows now in development at The Contemporary Jewish Museum,” says Lori Starr, Executive Director, The CJM. “We are so excited to present and then travel this first museum survey of Leibowitz’s work, spotlighting a contemporary artist distinguished by his no-holds-barred examination of art, culture, sexuality, and being Jewish in the 21st century.”

In both his cheeky multiples (inexpensively mass-produced buttons, mugs, and more) and his irregular-format paintings, Leibowitz mixes his obsession with popular culture, fine art, and Jewishness with elements of therapy and self-loathing, interrogation and self-interrogation, institutional critique, social commentary, and stand-up comedy routine. His work manages to seamlessly blend comedy and neurosis in such a way that questions about appearance and identity become a running commentary on the self/other. 

The accompanying 225-page fully-illustrated hardcover catalog features contributions by James and Leibowitz, as well as Rhonda Lieberman, Hilton Als, Simon Lince, Fran Drescher, David Bonetti, and Glen Helfand.

Cary Leibowitz (b. 1963, New York) is an American artist whose work has been shown throughout the United States and Europe, including The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Whitney Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA; The Jewish Museum, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; German Kunstvereins in Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Düsseldorf and Bonn; and Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen. Leibowitz’s work has been included in the landmark exhibitions Too Jewish? Challenging Traditional Identities at the Jewish Museum in New York; In a Different Light at the University Art Museum, University of California Berkeley; and Bad Girls, New Museum, New York. His work has been reviewed in The New Yorker, Artforum, The New York Times, Frieze Magazine, and Art in America, among others. Leibowitz is represented by INVISIBLE-EXPORTS.

Related programming
Untitled, Art Fair
Thursday, January 12–Sunday, January 15
Pier 70 420 22nd Street

Gallery performance: Alvin Orloff
Friday, February 10, 12:30–1pm 

Gallery performance: Jennifer Blowdryer  
Friday, February 24, 12:30–1pm 

Night at the Jewseum: Sparkle!  
Thursday, March 9, 6:30–9pm, 21+ 

That’s So Gay!  
Sunday, February 26, 3–5pm 
Teens only

Censored! Teaching Queer History and Identity Through the Art of Cary Leibowitz
Thursday, February 2, 4:30–7:30pm

The Art of AIDS Activism
Thursday, April 6, 6:30–8pm

Gallery talk: Andrew Ramer on Pride Week’s Pink Triangle in Conjunction with Yom HaShoah
Friday, April 21, 12:30–1pm

In A Different Light, Revisited
Thursday, May 11, 12:30–1pm

San Francisco Poet’s Theater presents: Celebrity Hospital
Thursday, May 25, 6:30–8:30pm

Gallery performance: Ed Wolf
Friday, May 26, 12:30–1pm

Please Don’t Tell Anyone You Saw Me: Comedians on The Edge
Thursday, June 1, 6:30–8pm

Gallery performance: Juliana Delgado Lopera
Friday, June 2, 12:30–1pm

Gallery performance: Daphne Gottlieb
Friday, June 9, 12:30–1pm

Gallery performance: Sherilyn Connelly
Friday, June 16, 12:30–1pm

Gallery performance: Charlie Jane Anders
Friday, June 23, 12:30–1pm

For media information or visuals visit our online press gallery or please contact:

Nina Sazevich
Public Relations
T 415 752 2483 / nina [​at​] sazevichpr.com

Melanie Samay
Associate Director of Marketing and Communications
T 415 655 7833 / msamay [​at​] thecjm.org

Online: thecjm.org/press

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Museum Show
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