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A Postmodern Metamorphosis: The Process of Michael Sgan-Cohen’s Reception into the Israeli Art Field

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This essay looks at Michael Sgan-Cohen’s reception in the Israeli art field over a period of 25 years. It suggests that whereas Sgan-Cohen’s signature style of referencing and reworking Jewish sources did not change much over that time, the Israeli art field did shift in its reception of his work, from an unfavorable stance in 1978, to a somewhat more accepting one in 1994, to recognition of Sgan-Cohen as an artist of merit in 2004. Critical commentaries on his exhibitions and interviews with key personalities within the field shed light on Sgan-Cohen’s reception and elucidate the changes within the field itself. Moreover, by focusing on the emergence of postmodern discourse and its influence on the Israeli art field and framing these findings within the realm of field theory, this study creates a context for understanding these structural shifts in the Israeli art field, as it came face-to-face with postmodern discourse.


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