Boris Lurie

 

Boris Lurie was born 1924 in Leningrad, Russia, and grew up in Riga, Latvia. At the age of sixteen he was taken prisoner by the Nazis and imprisoned for a period of four years at Buchenwald and other concentration camps. After his liberation Lurie remained in Germany for a year and worked for the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps. He moved to New York City in 1946 and began his art career there. From 1954 to 1955 he lived and worked in Paris.

Boris Lurie first gained national attention in 1960. During this year he, along with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher, created the NO!art movement. The principle aim of NO!art was to bring back into art the subjects of real life. It thus stood in opposition to the two most popular movements of the era, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

For the most part critics and curators of the day rejected Lurie and NO!art. As he has stated, “The art market is nothing but a racket. There is an established pyramid which everybody who wants to benefit from it has to participate—if he is permitted to participate.” Yet Lurie continued to produce his highly charged political and social imagery and, in 1963, his now famous collage, Railroad Collage—which superimposed a pin-up girl in front of victims of a concentration camp—caused a major furor.

He died in 2008 in New York. Boris is buried in Hof Hacarmel cemetery in Haifa, Israel.

 

THE NO!ART MOVEMENT

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.

 

Boris Lurie (1924-2008)

NO!art Bag, 1974

oil paint, canvas, and paper collage on burlap bag

40.5 x 21.25 inches

 

 

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. In the same time, it represents a reaction against what the NO!art artists considered a fake, edulcorated version of 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. While the Dadaist and Surrealist filiation is 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.

DISMEMBERED WOMEN


The female figures that populate his work, from the Dismembered Women Series (1955-57), through the Dancehall (1955), Black Figures (1957-58) and Three Women (1955-57) Series, to the Love (1963) and Pin-ups (1960-1964) Series must be understood through the matrix of the imponderable pain the loss of those dearest to him would inflict. The futile longing for their simple presence by his side, the desperate imaginings of what might have been -- for them far more so than for himself -- had the world not fallen into the clutches of evil, and the constant recognition that violence and inhumanity are equally a danger inherent in the everyday relations of the strong to the weak, the rich to the poor, and male to female, would inform his art even as he matured into the uncompromising radical his later work reveals. Because Lurie’s passion, or rather, compassion for the subject is so multifarious, his fundamental and overwhelming sympathy for women is sometimes misunderstood, especially in the later work, as unwholesome sexual obsession. The mirror he holds up to society is sometimes mistaken for the un-selfconscious mirror of his soul; his own, evidently vigorous, sexuality, forever colored, and indeed perhaps somehow stunted, by the camp experience, is rendered suspect by the insistent proximity of violence and death. His Dismembered Women, Pin-Ups, and Love Series, among others, at once assert that the objectification of women is violence against women and that female sexuality is a fundamental and ineradicable force, ideas difficult at best to incorporate in a single work.

 

 

SELECTED EXHIBITION HISTORY

 

2018 - Boris Lurie: Pop-art After the Holocaust – MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art In Krakow, Poland

2018 - Flashes of the Future: The Art of the ’68ers or The Power of the Powerless  Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kuns, Aachen, Germany

2017 - You’ve Got 1243 Unread Messages. – Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia

2017 - Boris Lurie in Habana – Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba

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

2017 - Boris Lurie: Life After Death – Westwood Gallery, New York NY

2017 - Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965 – Grey Art Gallery, NYU, New York NY

2016 - Boris Lurie. Adieu Amérique – CAMERA - Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, Torino, Italy

2016 - BORIS LURIE NO! – Janco Dada Museum, Ein Hod, Israel

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

2014 - Dessinez Eros (Group Exhibition) Galerie Odile Ouizeman, Paris, France

2014 - El Museo Vostell Malpartida, Spain.

2014 - The Box LA, Stand A14, Frieze Art Fair – New York. NYTimes.com mentio

2013 - Boris Lurie, 1924–2008 – 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 - Boris Lurie, The 1940s, Paintings and Drawings – Studio House, New York NY

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

2012 - Boris Lurie – David David Gallery

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

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

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 - Atonement (Oratorio composed by Marvin David Levy dedicated to Boris Lurie and Holocaust victims), Temple Emanu-El

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

2011 - Los Angeles Art Fair, Westwood Gallery Booth

2010 - Art|Miami, Westwood Gallery Booth

2010 - NO!art | An Exhibition of Early Work, Westwood Gallery, New York

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

2009 - ART FAIR 2009 – New York – Pierre Menard Gallery, Cambridge

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

2005 - Wild Boys, Dad Boys, Outsiders, and Originals | Clayton Gallery, New York

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

2003 - Optimistic – Disease – Facility, Boris Lurie – Buchenwald–New York, with Naomi T. Salmon at Haus am 2003 - Kleistpark, Berlin-Schoeneberg

2003 - NO!-ON – Gallery Berliner Kunstprojekt, Berlin

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 - Works 1946-1998, Weimar-Buchenwald Memorial, Weimar

1999 - Life - Terror - Mind, Show at Buchenwald Memorial, Weimar

1999 - Knives in Cement, South River Gallery (UIMA), Iowa City

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

1995 - Dance Hall Series, endart Gallery, Berlin

1995 - Holocaust In Latvia, Jewish Culture House, Riga

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

1993 - Outlaw Art Show, Clayton Gallery, New York

1989 - Graffiti-Art – Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden

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

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

1975 - Recycling Exhibition, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

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

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

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

1970 - Art & Politics, Kunstverein Karlsruhe

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

1964 - Boxes, Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles

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

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

1962 - Sam Goodman & Boris Lurie, Galleria Arturo Schwarz, Milano

1962 - Doom Show, Galleria La Salita, Roma

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

1961 - Involvement Show, March Gallery, New York

1961 - Doom Show, March Gallery, New York

1960 - Dance Hall Series, D’Arcy Galleries, New York

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

1960 - Les Lions, March Gallery, New York

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

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

1960 - Joe Marino's Atelier, New York

1959 - Drawings USA, Museum of Modern Art, New York

1959 - 10th Street, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston

1958 - Black Figures, March Gallery, New York

1951 - Dismembered Figures, Barbizon Plaza Galleries, New York

1950 - Boris Lurie, Creative Gallery, New York

 

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