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Boris Lurie (July 18, 1924 – January 7, 2008) was an American artist and writer. He co-founded the NO!Art movement which calls for art leading to social action. His controversial work, often related to the Holocaust, has frequently irritated critics and curators and has sold poorly.
Though he lived as a penniless artisit, Lurie amassed $80 million by buying penny stocks and real estate which he left to create the Boris Lurie Art Foundation.
Lurie was born in Leningrad into a Jewish family and grew up in Riga. From 1941 to 1945 he was imprisoned in German concentration camps; his mother, grandmother and sister were killed by the Nazis.
In 1946 he came to New York and produced several figurative paintings processing his wartime memories. One of his best known and most controversial works is "Railroad Collage" (1959), a collage of two photographs showing a pin-up girl undressing in the midst of corpses of gas chamber victims on a flatcar. He continued with several etchings, sculptures and paintings, often with Holocaust or death themes.
In 1960 he founded the NO!art movement together with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher, out of a sense of disillusionment with the contemporary art scene. The goal was to have art address the disconcerting truths: racism, imperialism, sexism, colonialism, depravity.
The movement favors "totally unabashed self-expression leading to social action" and is opposed to the worldwide capitalist "investment art market", to pop-art that celebrates consumerism and to decorative "salon art" such as abstract expressionism. Lurie's art and the NO!Art movement were largely ignored by the establishment, and in 1970 Lurie wrote his critique "MOMA as Manipulator."
One of the movement's earliest champions was the Italian art dealer, Arturo Schwarz, and New York gallerist, Gertrude Stein
Pieces by Lurie are now contained in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA; NYC). In 2001, the NO!Art movement was subject of a retrospective at the University of Chicago, the University of Nebraska and at the Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC).
In 2002, Amikam Goldman completed a documentary on Boris Lurie entitled No!Art Man, which was premiered at the Anthology Film Archives with Mr. Lurie present.
Lurie's art has found more resonance in Germany than in the United States. Germany saw two large exhibitions of his work in 1995 and 2004. A documentary, Shoah and Pin-Ups: The NO!-Artist Boris Lurie, was shown on German TV in 2007.
On January 7th, 2008, Lurie died from kidney failure, days after having suffered a stroke. At age 83, he was the last surviving founder of the NO!Art movement.
Since 1999 the NO!Art Movement is led by Dietmar Kirves (headquarters Berlin), and Clayton Patterson (headquarters New York).
Members are: Rocco Armento, Isser Aronovici (t), Enrico Baj (t), Paolo Baratella, Herb Brown, Ronaldo Brunet, Guenter Brus, Al D'Arcangelo (t), Aleksey Dayen, Frank-Kirk Ehm-Marks, Erro (Ferro), Klaus Fabricius, Charles Gatewood, Paul Georges (t), Jochen Gerz, Dorothie Gillespie, Esther Morgenstern Gilman (t), Amikam Goldman, Leon Golub (t), Blalla W. Hallmann (t), Harry Hass, Allan Kaprow (t), Kommissar Hjuler (Detlev Hjuler) and Mama Baer (Andrea Katharina Ingeborg Hjuler), Yayoi Kusama, Konstantin K. Kuzminsky, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Suzanne Long (Harriet Wood), LST, Enzo Mastrangelo, Stu Mead, Peter Meseck, Lil Picard (t), Leonid Pinchevsky, Bernard Rancillac, Francis Salles, Naomi Tereza Salmon, Reinhard Scheibner, Bruno Schleinstein (t), Dominik Stahlberg, Michelle Stuart, Aldo Tambellini, Seth Tobocman, Jean Toche, Toyo Tsuchiya, Wolf Vostell (t), Friedrich Wall, Mathilda Wolf, Natalia E. Woytasik, Miron Zownir