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Boris Lurie exhibition search

with connections to WOLF VOSTELL and FLUXUS
curated by Rafael Vostell

May 18 - July 15, 2014
Info + Preface + Location + Views + Review + Catalog
About Museum + About the Curator

INFORMATION by the CURATOR RAFAEL VOSTELL about the EXHIBITION: Boris Lurie (born July 18, 1924 in Leningrad, Soviet Union, † January 7, 2008 in New York City, United States) was an important American artist and author. Lurie survived several concentration camps, emigrated after the end of World War II in the U.S., where he co-founded in 1959, the New York NO! Art[1] movement, an artists' formation that emerged in the late 50s as an alternative to Abstract Expressionism and the emerging Pop Art . Lurie and the NO! Art movement was closely associated with Wolf Vostell. The exhibition displays a retrospective scale showing the most important art works of Boris Lurie and focuses on the connections to Wolf Vostell and Fluxus. The exhibition was made possible through the cooperation of the Boris Lurie Art Foundation.

[1] They never recognize the correct writing "NO!art" because they never look in our archives what it is. The time for Yes-art is not at all at hand.

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PREFACE by Gertrude Stein
Chairman Boris Lurie Art Foundation

It is with great pride that Boris Lurie is being exhibited in Spain, in the Museo Vostell Malpartida, a museum that Boris deeply admired, as he deeply admired Wolf Vostell, his long time friend. Boris had only the greatest respect for Wolf ’s works and ideas, from their first meeting in New York in the early sixties, when they began to exhibit together in some of the most important avant-garde shows of the art world of its day. They remained united in spirit, and in their remarkable art, until Wolf ’s passing in 1998. This show honors their bond. I wish to thank Mercedes Guardado Vostell, the Consorcio Museo Vostell Malpartida, and everyone who has made this historic exhibit possible.

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click & see more

malpartida location

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The Museo Vostell Malpartida in the Spanish town of Malpartida de Cáceres, west of the provincial capital of Cáceres, is dedicated to the work of the German painter, sculptor, Fluxus and happening artist Wolf Vostell. Wolf Vostell traveled to Malpartida (in southwestern Spain) in 1974 and founded the Museo Vostell Malpartida (MVM) in 1976 in an 18th century wool laundry (Lavadero de Lanas). In 1994, the regional government (Junta de Extremadura) took over the complete renovation of the buildings. In 2005, the Junta de Extremadura acquired the Vostell Archive. The archive became an integral part of the Museo Vostell Malpartida and serves as a source of information for art historians and journalists. The museum displays an extensive collection of works by the artist, who died in 1998, in its rooms and on its grounds. It also displays works by other Fluxus artists, including Milan Knížák, Nam June Paik, George Maciunas, Yoko Ono, Allan Kaprow, Antonio Saura and Daniel Spoerri. Likewise, the museum houses the collection of Gino di Maggio (who specifically collected the art of Fluxus). Of particular note is the installation The End of Parzival by Salvador Dalí.

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Boris Lurie at Museum Vostell, view 1
Boris Lurie at Museum Vostell, view 2
Boris Lurie at Museum Vostell, view 3
Boris Lurie at Museum Vostell, view 4
Boris Lurie at Museum Vostell, view 6

COMMENT: Where are the visitors at this godforsaken location?

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PIN-UP-GIRLS IM LAGER | Erstmals seit seinem Tod 2008 werden
Werke von Boris Lurie in Europa gezeigt
Published in: Jüdische Allgemeine, Berlin, am 19. Juni 2014

Sometime in 1945, or perhaps a year later, Boris Lurie arrived in New York, his adopted home forced upon him by the Nazis. When I first met him 30 years later in the twilight of his 66th Street Manhattan hallway to make a film about him, I quickly understood his longing to return to Europe. There, in Berlin precisely, I had seen his disturbing pictorial works: Concentration camp prisoners, waiting for their liberation. Ghostly figures between hope for life and brokenness.

Framed by pin-up girls in explicit poses. Lurie, the survivor of a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp, has made the beautiful and the naked, the gassed and the escaped, his subject. Not in the usual dignified to ritualized manner of commemoration, which has its own value, but juggling on a knife edge in the minefield between voyeuristic pleasure and pure horror.

FLUXUS Substantially, such works are mirrors - images of the own experiences of Boris Lurie, who was born in Leningrad in 1924 and grew up in Riga. Politically, his work, which reaches far beyond the Shoah to the America of the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, is an attack on "good taste," an attack on the rigged rules of politics, art, and society. This is and remained the program of the NO!art movement, which Lurie co-founded and essentially determined. He was, so to speak, its Andy Warhol.

Artistically and aesthetically, Lurie, who discovered collage for himself after 1950, was close to the rough Fluxus art. Above all Wolf Vostell, the most political representative of Fluxus; the two were connected by a lifelong artistic relationship, the basis of which remained their confrontation with the Shoah. How close this "Jewish" elective affinity was will become clear in July, when I juxtapose my films about Boris Lurie and Vostell in the Spanish Malpartida de Cáceres.

Placing the first European exhibition after the death of the NO!art artist in 2008 in the Museo Vostell there in the Spanish Estremadura, in collaboration with the New York Boris Lurie Art Foundation, was a wise decision. Surrounded by the art of his friend Vostell and other Fluxus greats, the museum is a good starting point for bringing the artist's diverse art back into the focus of current art discourse.

MIX-MEDIA Even Lurie connoisseurs will discover rarely shown works. Like the "Three Women" paintings from 1955, which are reminiscent of the ominous ghostly figures of Goya's "Black Series". But also many previously less known picture panels and objects, for example "wildly" painted suitcases as symbols of real displacement and homelessness, prove Boris Lurie's quality as a mix-media artist.

His collages in particular are cruel masterpieces of an art of remembrance that does not whine, is not loquacious, does not retreat into safe aesthetic realms. Lurie attacks: the silent ones as well as the perpetrators and fellow travelers and those who allegedly did not know about everything.

Of course, it is regrettable that some important, large-format oil and collage paintings are missing from the meritorious exhibition, presumably also for reasons of conservation. But the Museo Vostell is at least showing an incunabulum of Lurie art: "Railroad Collage," 35x 57 centimeters in size. One of those works that also repeatedly troubled the survivors and their descendants. A pin-up lady stripping off her panties over her respectable bottom. Lurie pasted this on the photo of a wagon with body parts, so that the pin-up girl offers her front body to the perished.

The accusation that Boris Lurie, whose mother and sister were killed by the Nazis, denigrates those murdered in the concentration camps is as understandable as it is false. And to defame his work as a misogynistic machination is still too simplistic, even if we assume that Lurie, the man, has not only the noblest motives in art and life.

There is no doubt that Lurie's art has an inherent ambivalence that it shares with the art of other artists whose works revolve around sexuality and violence. One need only think of Hieronymus Bosch's "Garden of Delights," which can be interpreted as a den of iniquity as well as a future paradise. Boris Lurie was aware of the ambivalent effect of his art. In my film, he says that he would have preferred to paint impressionistically, which he could do quite well. But there would always have been the compulsion to deal with the past, with social events. With the unpleasant, with the "hard things," but this had brought him no personal happiness.

However, the "Railroad Collage", indeed Lurie's entire oeuvre, can also be read as a symbol of triumphant life over all the mass and genocides of history. Thus as the quite Janus-faced victory of love and instincts.

However. What Lurie did not succeed in doing, his paintings did: In the year of his 90th birthday, they returned temporarily to Europe. And soon to their point of departure, Germany. In a modified form, the second station of the exhibition will be the NS Documentation Center in Cologne. A respectable address whose audience will extend beyond the circle of art enthusiasts. Art, however, and not only here, that wants to have a lasting effect beyond the occasion of its creation, needs a place in the art museum. Everything else is everything else ... This applies to Picasso's art as well as to that of Boris Lurie.

Source in German:

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Brigitte Kramer: RAFAEL VOSTELL
Review in: | 28.02.2013 [in German]

Rafael Vostell bears the burden of his famous father with dignity. Even more: the son of the great artist Wolf Vostell (1932-1998) has made the best of his fate. "My school was my childhood home," says the 47-year-old art dealer, who grew up with large-format art in his children's room. Art hung everywhere, even in the toilet, and when the family needed money, a work "I had just gotten used to" was suddenly gone, he says.

That's how it came about that Rafael, the younger of the two sons of the German-Spanish couple Wolf Vostell and Mercedes Guardado, today not only manages his father's estate, but has also been dealing in avant-garde art of the 1960s for more than 20 years, by Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik or Yoko Ono. He closed his galleries in Berlin and Madrid a few years ago, and is now a freelance curator and dealer. Next week, for example, the exhibition "Walking on faces" by Mallorcan Bernardí Roig will open in Berlin, coinciding with the ITB tourism fair. Vostell curated it and arranged it in the exhibition venue Halle am Wasser. The commission from the Balearic government was the first that Vostell received in his new home Mallorca.

He tells it in a quiet tone of voice, in a Palmesan café. Rafael Vostell is a well-groomed, alert man who expresses himself fluently with a slight Berlin accent. At the same time, he looks like a southern Spaniard - an interesting mixture. Vostell's life path now takes him to Mallorca. The island is the most beautiful corner of Spain, Vostell says with a smile, and you have to believe him. After all, he has been commuting between Germany and Spain since he was a child, has family here and there. A finca near Artà has been the new residence of Vostell and his partner, photographer Miriam Peppler, for a few weeks. The two are beaming as they talk about their new phase in life, full of joy as they describe their discoveries and experiences on the island.

They have come to stay. Vostell wants to curate exhibitions, show works from his collection, especially the works of his father. 200 to 300 works by the radical, anti-bourgeois conceptual artist are waiting to be shown in various warehouses in Germany and Spain: Environments, sculptures, installations, many of them bulky, large-scale and uncomfortable, cars cast in concrete, televisions stacked on top of each other, 40 vacuum cleaners lined up, piles of computers. Wolf Vostell has also left behind large canvases with bleeding bulls, collages and assemblages, or such cheeky objects as the "Automatic Telephone Answering Machine." The work: a number on a sheet of paper. The idea: anyone who dialed it between October 1 and 31, 1969, could hear different ideas from Vostell on the phone every day. Preserving all this is a challenge for the heirs.

Fortunately, there is a Vostell hoard. The center of the artist universe is in Malpartida, a nest near Cáceres in Extremadura. There is a museum there, and the widow and David Vostell, Rafael's older brother, live there. The museo was a gift from the mayor, in the mid-70s. Today it is considered one of the first Spanish museums of contemporary art. It houses not only the family archive but also the large Fluxus collection of Gino di Maggio, as well as works by artists such as Antonio Saura and Daniel Spoerri. It is located in a protected landscape area and is housed in a renovated wash and shearing house for sheep that were cared for there twice a year on their migration from southern to northern Spain.

"The place has a great energy," Rafael says. His mother is from Extremadura. She met Vostell in 1958 in the pilgrimage town of Guadalupe. The young artist had traveled there from Cologne to admire Francisco de Zurbarán's portraits of monks. The local teacher, small and dark, and the artist from the Rhine, light and tall, fell in love. "The rest is history," Rafael says with a laugh.

Rafael Vostell now adds a chapter to the family history. The new location Mallorca is not only the most beautiful spot in Spain, but is also far away from Malpartida. Living there would be unimaginable for Vostell junior. The nearest international airport is a three-hour drive away, he says. Perhaps his father is also too present there. There is only one visible reference to him on the island: the bronze sculpture "Nike" at the intersection of Paseo Mallorca and Avinguda Jaume III, which Vostell's gallery owner at the time, Joan Guaita, sold to the town hall after his death. "It is indestructible, only the tree would have to be trimmed once," says Rafael Vostell after the photo session with the MZ. But fortunately, that's not his job.


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