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Art and Israel: Some Sunny News

Art and Israel: Some Sunny News

It was a downer to hear that the U.S.-led Israel peace talks fell through this morning. But then I was reminded of some sunny news: Israeli artists, one of the bright spots on the country these days, are breaking out far beyond New York. Adi Nes, Sigalit Landau, Yael Bartana, Mika Rottenberg–all were represented at Miami’s Art Basel last weekend. And then there was fast-rising Elad Lassry, who is having his limelight moment.

Based in Los Angeles, the 33-year-old Lassry not only had both his L.A. and New York galleries showcasing his work, he also has two shows up right now in New York. At Luhring Augustine, they’re showcasing several of his sly "post-Pictures Generation" art, as he calls it. And at MoMA, he’s one of four young artists in its "New Photography 2010" show.

What accounts for Lassry’s success?

He’s only three years out of art school, and it could be just a passing trend–the art world is fickle, yes. But I think there’s more to it. The Pictures Generation–Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari, Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger, among others–which skewered our narcissistic marketing-driven culture, highlighted a topic that hasn’t gone away. It is tempting to think that when stodgier institutions like the Met and the Guggenheim, all of whom have recently had, are of having (pace Baldessari) major shows on Picture Generation artists now, their moment has passed. But the popularity of Lassry suggests otherwise.

When you like at his candy-colored lipstick close-ups or cheekily unfocused yearbook-style photographs, you’re reminded of how much we’ve been inured to certains common-place images. The lipstick looks gorgeous on its little green pedestals. And that girl, wait, how ugly! You’re not supposed to think these things about these objects; in fact, you’re not even supposed to think at all about them. But that’s the point. Lassry reminds us that all these images convey meaning. We may not like what they say, but at least we know that they’re actually saying something.

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