Boris Lurie

In 1946, after surviving the Holocaust, Boris Lurie moved to New York City where he became involved with the underground art scene through a movement he co-founded with Sam Goodman (1919-1967) and Stanley Fisher (1926-1980). The NO!art movement was a form of free expression, without commercial motivation, encompassing the artists’ views on politics, society, art, personal experiences and visceral expression. At the time, NO!art was largely rejected by art critics, museums and collectors. In 1970 Lurie wrote a statement for an exhibition in Germany, “The time for Yes-art is not at all at hand. Who knows? Maybe NO!art’s time is yet to come.”

Lurie’s artwork has been exhibited at Neues Museum Nürnberg, Germany, Grey Gallery at NYU, Weimar-Buchenwald Memorial, Germany, Block Museum of Art Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA and numerous other museums and galleries in the U.S., Germany, Latvia and Israel and is the subject of many publications. In September 2017, a solo exhibition of his work will be held at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana, Cuba. Two film documentaries were completed on Boris Lurie, "NO!art Man," by Amikam Goldman, 2002, and "Shoah and Pin-Ups: The NO!-Artist Boris Lurie," 2007. Both films explore the life and work of the artist.

Early Drawings

After surviving the Holocaust and four concentration camps from 1941-45 as well as the murder of his mother, sister and grandmother, Boris and his father immigrated to New York City in 1946. His early works, ink on paper drawings and monochromatic paintings, are intensely focused on the subject of women, and allow more insight into the creative mind than his later work. The early works can be considered as an attempt to recuperate the pre-war past and reconcile the losses. The imagery is reminiscent of German Expressionism with disproportionate, sometimes deformed fading images of women.

Dance Drawings, 1950's

Lurie loved the dancehalls of the forties and fifties, places where men and women could interact closely, somewhat free of the social norms. In this places the artist could observe and depict in bold strokes the intimate interaction of couples which to him evoked the truncated lives of the women who were destroyed in the Holocaust. In simple but powerful lines, Lurie conveys the profound dynamic of relationships and the atmosphere of places.

Dismembered Women

The 1960s was a time of revolution, with the Cold War, civil rights protests, the Vietnam War, death of leaders, consumerism, rock music, the Apollo space mission, and many other defining moments in history. Lurie was creating his own revolution in the art world, but mainly on the radar of other downtown artists. In the mid to late 1950s and early 1960s, Lurie created several series of female-focused paintings, among which the Dismembered Women Series (1955-57). The colorful, large-scale biomorphic surreal portraits of this series juxtapose light and dark in the artist’s canon. They are deformed yet voluptuous, with each canvas dedicated to one dominant female image. The paintings of this period assert that the objectification of women is violence against women and that female sexuality is a fundamental and ineradicable force.


NO!art, founded in 1960 by Lurie with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher, was primarily a strong reaction of the artists against the establishment. Its main intent was to address the less pleasant social realities, glossed over by the mainstream art, and to prompt for immediate action and social reform versus accepting the prevalent beautified version of reality. From such a platform, NO!art positioned itself directly in conflict with the glossy homage of consumerism celebrated by Pop art, and the already established high art, Abstract Expressionism, the two movements dominating the art scene at the time. As a result, the NO!art artists were largely ignored by the general public and the establishment, while gaining a cult following.

The theme choices often reference the historical context; sexual references hint to the mainstream repression at the time, as well as to the commercialization of sex, while the superimposition of war and extermination imagery stems from recent memories and from a need to shock in order to press for social reform. A NO!art artwork is definitely not a commodity or a decorative background, but more likely is meant to evoke wounds which are not healed, and which have been superficially hidden by the fabric of everyday life in 1960s US. At the same time, it represents a reaction against what the NO!art artists considered a fake, edulcorated version of mainstream events. The artworks incorporate photography, collage from newspapers and other sources, found objects and advertising banner words. One can see distorted female figures, obliterated faces, covered in scratches, words such as NO, AVOID, BLEED or SHARK BAIT. The surface of the artwork is not glossy, and the message is that another layer of disturbing imagery or information could exist in the social palimpsest, and it should be excavated. With the Dada and Surrealist affiliation evident, there is also a desperate need for authenticity and confronting life without attempting to hide its dark sides and to prompt the public to accept the need for social reform and openness as a cure for alienation.

Lurie’s art is heroic. He rejected the temptation to abandon the ravages of the past that swept up American society and its art world in the wake of victory in the Second World War and to embrace the ever less mindful prosperity that victory brought with it. His art is a resounding NO! to ease and oblivion and a solemn vow never to forget. He stands among the great artists who responded in their work to the greatest inhumanity ever perpetrated and who reaffirmed the human spirit that art represents at a time in which its own fate hung in the balance.

Installation Views

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2017 - Boris Lurie. Anti-Pop, Neues Museum Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design Nürnberg, Germany


  • 2017 - BORIS LURIE in Habana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Havana Cuba

  • 2017 - Boris Lurie. Adieu Amérique, CAMERA- Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, Italy

  • 2016 - No Compromises! The Art of Boris Lurie , Jewish Museum Berlin

  • 2015 - Unorthodox, Jewish Museum, New York NY

  • 2015 - Boris Lurie NO!art, Galerie Odile Ouizeman, Paris, France

  • 2014 - KZ – KAMPF – KUNST. Boris Lurie: NO!art NS-Dokumentationszentrum der Stadt Köln, Germany

  • 2013 - Boris Lurie, The 1940s, Paintings and Drawings , Studio House, New York NY

  • 2012 - Boris Lurie: NO!art of the 1960s , Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, Firenze, Italia

  • 2011 - NO!art of Boris Lurie, Zverev Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow, Russia

  • 2011 - NO! The Art of Boris Lurie at Chelsea Art Museum , Chelsea Art Museum, NYC

  • 2011 - BORIS LURIE: NO!art, Pierre Menard Gallery, Cambridge, MA

  • 2010 - NO!art | An Exhibition of Early Work , Westwood Gallery, NYC

  • 2004 - Optimistic – Disease – Facility, Boris Lurie Buchenwald, New York, with Naomi T. Salmon — Haus am Kleistpark, Berlin-Schoeneberg

  • 1999 - Knives in Cement and Other Constructions, South River Gallery (UIMA), Iowa City

  • 1995 - Boris Lurie und NO!art , Haus am Kleistpark, Berlin

  • 1995 - Dance Hall Series endart Gallery, Berlin, endart Gallery, Berlin

  • 1988 - Feel-Paintings, Gallery and Edition Hundertmark, Cologne

  • 1975 - Recycling Exhibiton, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

  • 1974 - Boris Lurie at Inge Baecker , Inge Baecker Galerie, Bochum, Germany

  • 1974 - NO!art Bags , Galerie und Edition Hundertmark, Köln

  • 1970 - Art & Politics , Kunstverein Karlsruhe, Germany

  • 1964 - NO & ANTI-POP Poster Show, Gallery Gertrude Stein, New York

  • 1963 - Boris Lurie at Gallery Gertrude Stein , — Gallery Gertrude Stein, New York

  • 1961 - Pinup Multiplications , D’Arcy Galleries, New York

  • 1960 - Adieu Amerique , Roland de Aenlle Gallery, New York

  • 1960 - Les Lions, March Gallery, New York

  • 1960 - Vulgar Show , March Gallery, New York; Joe Marino’s Atelier, New York

  • 1960 - Boris Lurie, Joe Marino's Atelier, New York

  • 1958 - Black Figures , March Gallery, New York

  • 1951 - Dismembered Figures , Barbizon Plaza Galleries, New York

  • 1950 - Boris Lurie 1, Creative Gallery, New York

Group Exhibitions

  • - Outlaw Art Show, Clayton Gallery, New York

  • 2014 - Dessinez Eros , Galerie Odile Ouizeman, Paris, France

  • 2013 - Charles Krause/ Reporting Fine Art, (e)merge art fair, Washington, DC

  • 2013 - Art Against Art: Yesterday and Today , Zverev Center of Contemporary Art, Moscow

  • 2013 - NO!art: The Three Prophets , The BOX, Los Angeles, CA

  • 2012 - A Self To Recover: Embodying Sylvia Plath's Ariel – Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

  • 2011 - NO!art at the Barricades, Chelsea Art Museum, NYC

  • 2009 - On the Tectonics of History, ISCP, New York

  • 2005 - The '80s , Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Art Museum, New York

  • 2004 - Feel Paintings / NO!art show #4, Janos Gat Gallery, New York

  • 2002 - NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom , Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA

  • 2001 - NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom , Block Museum, Evanston, IL

  • 1999 - Life - Terror - Mind : Buchenwald Concentration Camp: Portraits of Intellectuals and Artists, Buchenwald Memorial, Weimar

  • 1998 - NO!art Show #3 with Dietmar Kirves, Clayton Patterson & Wolf Vostell , Janos Gat Gallery, New York

  • 1995 - NO!art , Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin

  • 1995 - Holocaust In Latvia , Jewish Culture House, Riga

  • 1994 - NO!art (with Isser Aronovici & Aldo Tambellini), Clayton Gallery, New York

  • 1989 - Graffiti-Art, Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, West Germany

  • 1978 - Counterculturale Art (with Erro and Jean-Jacques Lebel) , American Information Service, Paris

  • 1974 - Boris Lurie & Wolf Vostell , Galerie Rewelsky, Köln

  • 1974 - NO!art with Sam Goodman & Marcel Janco , Ein-Hod-Museum, Ein-Hod,Israel

  • 1973 - NO!art Painting Seit 1959 , Galerie Ren é Block, Berlin; Galleria Giancarlo Bocchi, Milano

  • 1964 - Boxes, Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles

  • 1963 - NO!show, Gallery Gertrude Stein, New York

  • 1963 - Sam Goodman & Boris Lurie, Galleria Arturo Schwarz, Milano

  • 1962 - Doom Show, Galleria La Salita, Roma

  • 1961 - Involvement Show , March Gallery, New York

  • 1961 - Doom Show #1, March Gallery, New York

  • 1960 - Tenth Street New York Cooperative , Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

  • 1959 - 10th Street, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston

  • Weimar-Buchenwald Memorial, Weimar

  • D’Arcy Galleries, New York