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JEWISH MUSEUM Berlin | 10969 Berlin | Lindenstraße 9-14
Febr 26 - July 31, 2016
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Baltic Times

INFORMATION: The Jewish Museum Berlin is dedicating a major retrospective show to the NO!art artist Boris Lurie. His collages confront the viewer with the experience of persecution and prison camp in the Nazi era, provoking “horror and fascination” (Volkhard Knigge). For Luries work reveals a disgust toward humanity after it had shown itself capable of exiling and murdering millions as well as revulsion against a self-satisfied art market more interested in financial profit than in artistic expression. His drawings, however, strike a different tone and depict poetic images of the artist’s time.

Boris Lurie: A Jew is dead
Boris Lurie, A Jew is dead, 1964, Collage: oil, paper, and duct tape on canvas, 180x312 cm
© Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie was born in 1924 as son to a wealthy Jewish family in Leningrad, grew up in Riga, and with his father survived the Stutthof and Buchenwald concentration camps. His mother, grandmother, younger sister, and childhood sweetheart were murdered in 1941 in a mass shooting. These experiences left a lasting impression on Boris Lurie’s life.

In 1946, he immigrated to New York. In 1959, he founded the "NO!art" movement with a group of artist friends set against Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, but especially opposed to the economization of art and devoted to political issues such as racism, sexism, and consumerism.

Boris Lurie died in New York on 7 January 2008.

The exhibition is organized in cooperation and with the generous support of the Boris Lurie Art Foundation in New York.

When: 26 February to 31 July 2016 | Where: Old Building, first level | Admission with the museum ticket (8 euros, reduced rate 3 euros)


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Boris Lurie opening event
The BLAF-GANG in the first row: Leidhold and Williams, both mobbed-up by Gertrude Stein.

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See also Anthony Williams' wonderful letter
on Boris Lurie Art Foundation politics!

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AN ENGLIDSH MAN IN BERLIN | Blog March 1, 2016 | No Compromises! The Art of Boris Lurie at the Jewish Museum Berlin: It is rumoured that Boris Lurie’s NO!art movement got its name when a woman entered an exhibition on 10th street in New York, looked his Railroad to America collage (below), and ran out screaming "No! No! No!"

Boris Lurie, Railroad to America, 1963
Boris Lurie, Railroad to America, 1963, © Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York

Whether or not that story is apocryphal, the art of Boris Lurie is indeed provocative. Interestingly, he was very much against Warhol and the pop art movement, which also sought to be political and provocative. Perhaps this is because pop art lacks the harrowing depth of Lurie’s work.

This fresh, visceral quality is probably due to the fact that Boris Lurie, who grew up in Riga, was interned by the Nazis at Buchenwald and other concentration camps. His art is particularly Jewish – a visual and textual attempt to express a European Jewish experience. It seems apt, therefore, that the largest exhibition of his work – including pieces that have never been shown before – is now on at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

The retrospective presents an over-arching view of Lurie’s œuvre, consisting of over 200 collages, drawings, paintings, texts and sculptures, as well as documentary videos about the artist.  His vast body of work grapples with a number of subjects, from modern American society and politics, to concentration camps and depictions of women. Most impactful are his collages, combining photos of the Holocaust with pin-up photos from American magazines.

Perhaps the best sum up of the exhibition is the welcoming text at its entrance, by Lurie himself: If your eyes and mind serve you well, you will see something new. You will find no secret languages here, no fancy escapes, no hushed, muted silences, no messages beamed at exclusive audiences. Art is a tool of influence and urging. We want to talk, to shout, so that everybody can understand. Our only master is truth.

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Dietmar Kirves | Berlin Feb 26, 2016: During the opening I read Boris Lurie's text written on the wall above the "NO: "Whole system quite correctly not taken seriously any longer. Art system only dollar system. Nothing wrong with dollars. Dollars alone unfortunately don't make art. Art really exists, no kidding. Despite misapplied Duchamp's ideas. Despite artmarket. Despite educators and speculators". [Source: Curse works 1972-73] If Boris Lurie Art Foundation isn't a dollar system, why didn't they support radical artists in the sense of Boris Lurie?

Dietmar Kirves as visitor
Dietmar Kirves visits the Boris show. Photo: Klaus Fabricius, Stuttgart

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AMIKAM GOLDMAN | Tel Aviv | March 20, 2016: I'm furious with this person and this speech. those liars stole Boris.

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MISHA MAGAZINNIK | New York | March 21, 2016: well, sadly, it's a common story...

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CLAYTON PATTERSON | New York | March 30, 2016: Letter to the Jewish Art Museum Berlin I am disappointed in this show. Yes, there has been over a dozen Boris Lurie exhibitions around the world. More to come. A movie made and paid for by BLAF. And is it true that 2 years before his death these people met with bedridden, most time in a coma, Boris, and somehow persuaded Boris to turn his whole estate over to BLAF? I never met these people. Rene Frank was in charge and he never mentioned any of this. Check the court records dealing with timeline around Boris's will. Also check the hospital records. Boris was in a coma for months before he died.

After Boris's death I was at the first organization meeting in Mr. Nadelman's office. Nadelman was Boris's lawyer. Gertrude was barely mentioned. Other than Gertrude none of the BLAF directors were there. Gertrude later mentioned she, with an international group of lawyers, will take over the estate. Anyway. You can research this yourself.

Interesting that so little of the speakers speech was about Boris's art or NO!art. The content was a movie, almost a 100 million dollars, stocks, real-estate, all the restoration work they had done and whatever.

No mention of Dietmar Kirves, yet, it could be argued, that this show would not have happened without him. Not to forget Dietmar and his son, art historian Dr. Martin Kirves, repaired much of Boris's work before the Estera Milman exhibitions.

Dietmar and Martin are German and live in Berlin. Dietmar has a large NO!art/Boris Lurie archive. BLAF has never spoken to Dietmar about his archive. They have stolen articles off his NO!Art website and published them in BLAF catalogues. Using expensive international lawyers, BLAF, attempted to steal all his website work and to prohibit him from using the NO!art domain name…. and on and on.

What organizations are BLAF supporting? NO! Compromises. The BLAF is a complete compromise.

If nothing else, I see what is going on here as very anti-German. Is this how the BerlinJewish Museum rewards a German who has spent a large part of his adult life working to preserve the work of a holocaust survivor? He was not even invited to the show and he paid for NO!art DVD?

It has taken years, but eventually the truth shall be told. Just to get a taste of how much work Dietmar has done to educated the public about NO!art and Boris Lurie compare his site with BLAF.

The links below are a good place to start. And, once past this, look up the history of what Gertrude has done over the years to promote Boris's work. I hope that there are some critical thinkers at the museum who care about Jewish history.


thanks clayton patterson

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The following picture gallery provides an overview of the various groups
of Boris Lurie’s works shown in the retrospective.


Interior view of the first room in the exhibition with works
of the "Dance Hall Series", the "Saturation paintings," and the "Love Series."
Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

The exhibition also presents some of Lurie's sculptures such as the "Axt Series." Already in
1964 the "NO!Sculpture" exhibition showed the New York art world what Lurie thought of it.
His "Knives in Cement" from the early 70s with immobile, unusable machetes
allude to the end of all revolutionary impetus in Cuba.
Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

In the media room you can watch several documentary films on the artist Boris Lurie.
Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

This room of the exhibition is dedicated to Lurie's family and his "War Series."
Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

Interior view of the exhibition with works of the series "NO" and "Pin-ups."
Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

Boris Lurie: Portrait Of My Mother Before Shooting, 1947
"Portrait Of My Mother Before Shooting," 1947. During his four-year imprisonment in the camps,
Lurie managed to save a folder of family photographs that he had taken with him from
his family’s abandoned apartment in Riga. A portrait of his mother that he had painted shortly
after arriving in New York hung on the wall of his New York studio amidst papers, notes,
and newspaper clippings. Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Drawings, 1946
After arriving in New York in June 1946, Lurie began work on a series of drawings, ink wash images,
and small watercolors that capture his memories as a twenty-two-year old of his odyssey through
the ghetto and labor/concentration camps andthe period just after he was liberated.
Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Back From Work – Prison Entrance, 1946-47
"Back From Work – Prison Entrance," 1946/47. In 1946/47 Boris Lurie created numerous works in which
he processed his experiences in the camps through the medium of art. These "Saturation Paintings"
include his collages from the 60s in which he juxtaposed historical photographs with pin-ups.
Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: A Jew is dead, 1964
"A Jew is dead," 1964. In the late 50s Lurie was set on leaving New York and settling in Italy or France.
A ten-year relationship had just ended and there was nothing holding him in a country where he had an
increasingly negative view of society and politics. In the collages of words and images making up his
"Adieu Amerique" series, he takes stock of the situation.
Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Large Pinup no.4, 1960–70
"Large Pinup #4," 1960–70. Lurie’s entire studio was covered with newspaper cutouts of half-naked
women. He claimed that his Pin-up series began when snippets of these images accidentally fell onto
a canvas, and in 1960 he described the genesis of the work as follows: "And then at last I had to act.
Something had to be done to stop this monstrous growth. [ … ] Paintings started coming off the walls."
Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Suitcase, 1964
"Suitcase," 1964. Stars of David are a recurring element in Lurie’s work, where they appear in all possible
forms: cast in concrete, scratched or painted on the canvas, or glued, sewn, or burned into the
image’s surface. Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Altered Portraits, Henry Cabot Lodge, 1963
"Altered Portrait", 1963. Boris Lurie based this series of overpainted posters on an
election poster of the politician Henry Cabot Lodge. As the U.S. ambassador, Lodge
was involved in a CIA plot against Jean-Baptiste Ngô Đình Diêm, the president of
the Republic of Vietnam. In these works Lurie denounces the indifference of modern
politicians and their lack of character. Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Dismembered Stripper, 1956
"Dismembered Stripper," 1956. An obsession with the female body runs through
Boris Lurie’s entire artistic oeuvre. Commenting on his "Dismembered Women"
series in 1995, he said: "It was my reaction to New York and America. Fat and cut
up women. Fat and even cut up. All this after the famine and the war in Europe."
Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Hard Writings SLAVE, 1972
This work from 1972 belongs to the "Hard Writings" series that emerged in the period between the late
1960s and the early 1970s. Lurie painted words from window displays and advertisements over
historical photographs and images that he had taken from newspaper articles and men’s
magazines. Enhanced by the arrangement of the individual letters, these words suggest
a variety of meanings. Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: Love Series: Bound On Red Background, 1962
"Love Series: Bound On Red Background," 1962. In this
series Lurie examines physical coercion, subjugation,
and torture, as well as the link between voyeurism and
the commercialization of eroticism.
Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

Boris Lurie: No (Red and Black), 1963
"No (Red and Black)," 1963. Together with his artist friends Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher,
Boris Lurie founded the NO!art movement in 1959. In the early 1960s, the word NO! was a
dominant theme in Lurie’s work. Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA

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Boris Lurie’s ‘NO!art’ Mounted in Berlin
Published in: ARTS JOURNAL, New York, on June 10, 2016

Lurie, a Holocaust survivor, lived in New York like a pauper. But when he died he left about $80 million. He’d made that fortune pretty much in secret, playing the stock market (starting with penny stocks) and investing in real estate. Since his death, in 2008, a gallerist and her attorneys have been using that money to promote his artworks through the creation of a    Boris Lurie Art Foundation that shut out his closest friends and advocates, chiefly Dietmar Kirves (whose comprehensive NO!art website has been a labor of love for decades).

NO COMPROMISES! | The Art of Boris Lurie at the Jewish Museum Berlin looks like a major, absolutely must-see show. But the title reminds me of a huge compromise at the heart of it.

Because there’s no question that Lurie’s art deserves to be promoted, I won’t get into that depressing irony. But it’s worth pointing out the greatest contradiction of all: Boris Lurie railed long and hard against the corruption of the art market by money. It was to a large degree what he and NO!art stood against. Yet without the money provided by his estate, the foundation would not exist and his art would not be getting the kind of worldwide push that only millions of dollars can buy.

Boris Lurie, DrawingClayton Patterson comment
click on image to enlarge

Jan HermanABOUT JAN HERMAN: When not listening to Bach or Bill Evans, I like to play jazz piano — but only in the privacy of my own mind. Another strange fact: My correspondence with writers and poets of the Beat, post-Beat and Fluxus periods, along with other literary artifacts, was acquired by Northwestern University Library. In case you’re interested, the collection is described in the library’s cleverly named   Jan Herman Archive. Jed Birmingham has also written about my literary adventures.

My taste in writers keeps changing, but these are old reliables: Joseph Conrad, William S. Burroughs, George Orwell, Nelson Algren, and Graham Greene among the dead, John Le Carré and Clive James among the living. As a former theater reviewer, I’ve lost my appreciation for most theater these days. As a biographer of William Wyler, one of Hollywood’s great directors — and as a former film reviewer — I don’t know why most of today’s film critics even bother.

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Published in: Huffington Post, New Yoirk, on March 09, 2016

The Jewish Museum Berlin has a hit in its stunning design of a long-awaited Boris Lurie retrospective making its way around the globe.

Jewish Museum hall
Cilly Kugelmann, Program Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin opens the exhibition with
her address to the capacity crowd on 25 February 2016.

Located in the special exhibits section of the old building, “KEINE COMPROMISSE! DIE KUNST DES BORIS LURIE” fulfills the promise of its name with a no holds-barred design that manages to be both chronological...

Boris Lurie writings
...and echo the zinc walls of the new Liebeskind building with the quotes of a major
underground American artist who was a holocaust survivor.

This interconnection between inner and outer in the design highlights the 21st century contribution in the uncompromising anti art of Lurie, whose position in the underground of the international avant-garde and at the Jewish Museum today is founded in the expression of the dismembered and bound body...

Boris Lurie: Bound On Red Background, 1962
...arising from the prolonged torment of his memories as Holocaust survivor and the loss of his
beloved mother and sisters to the death camps. His 20th century personal/universal narrative...
(Photo by Yves Sucksdorff, courtesy of the Jewish Museum).

Exhibition view
Memories of the German concentration camps form “The Saturation Paintings”
oppose the Dance Hall series.

...evolves into a 21st century understanding of a holitic art. Lurie’s extreme dedication to allowing the creative process to pioneer new forms of expression. For example, he says that he started putting pin up tear sheets into his paintings when one accidently fell on the canvas. It is this reverence for what science now calls dark matter/dark energy and filtering this primordial energy in combination with the universal symbol.

Boris Lurie: Stars of David

This underground genius made his fortune through real estate and stock investments, leaving him free in his expression to please only himself. He found a kindred spirit in the dealer Gertrude Stein, who lived up to her name...

NO Show poster
Gallery: Gertrude Stein provided home to this underground New York avant-garde anti-art
movement protesting the institutional categorization of art which made no room for art
(R)evolutionary intent on shattering boundaries.

Photos in the show
Gertrude Stein’s portrait is in the archive revealing the history of the No-Art movement.

What is unexpected is the achievement by curator and his design team: to organize the work into separate periods divided into separate galleries, combining...

Boris Lurie: Knifes sculptures
Lurie knife sculptures intended to cut through boundaries...

...with the salon-style presentation of intimate sketches formed from emotional sense impressions of war...

Boris Lurie Drawings

In this manner, we experience the progression of the Lurie project: to deconstruct the holocaust torments and the memories of the uprooted female body in search of a unified expression...

Boris Lurie: Hard writings echoing from the underground an emotionally infused marriage of word and image that became antiseptic in the minimalist movement.

Ultimately, the message emanating from Lurie’s ouevre is...

Boris Lurie: NO, 1963

This antagonist stance kept the museums and collectors at bay even as its served the evolution of art in preparation for his infusion of political reflections summed up in the exhibition title. You need to get to Jewish Museum to experience it in person with the infusion of color and image sweeping the observer as participant in the creator’s no- compromising position like no other art does today.

The miracle is not so much in the work itself, but that it has finally been mounted, eight years after the artist’s death, in a professionally executed major museum...

... YES!!!

UNORTHODOX at the Jewish Museum New York closes on 27 March 2016. KEINE COMPROMISSE! DIE KUNST DES BORIS LURIE runs until 21 July at the Jewish Museum Berlin. “BORIS LURIE NO!” runs from 25 June-15 Oct. at the Janco Dada Museum in Israel. “UNORTHODOX” closes on 27 March at the Jewish Museum, NYC. See the Boris Lurie Art Foundation website for more information:

All photos, unless noted otherwise, are by Lisa Paul Streitfeld and published with permission of the museum.

Lisa Paul Streitfeld is an art critic and philsopher based in Berlin.


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The controversial, misunderstood and rejected art
of Latvian artist Boris Lurie
Published in: The Baltic Times, Riga/Latvia, on May 17, 2016

The Jewish Museum Berlin brought the exhibit of a Latvian artist, Boris Lurie, to Art New York.

Boris Lurie was born in Leningrad in 1924. His family escaped to Riga after the Russian Revolution. During WWII, following the occupation of the Baltic countries, the Germans herded together the Jewish population of Riga into two ghettos. The family was separated. Lurie, then 17, and his father had to perform forced labor in the “small ghetto” while his mother and sister were taken to the “big ghetto.” Lurie and his father survived the war, while his mother and sister were shot and buried in a mass grave in the winter of 1941.

Boris Lurie: Suitcase

After the war, Lurie, whose adolescence was formed by the concentration camp experience, and his father resettled in New York, where he became an artist with horrors of the Holocaust always depicted in the background.

Excessive, useless violence within the complex of industrial mass murder—an outcome of the combination of racism and modern procedures as utilized for killing the European Jews—informs the work of Boris Lurie. Images of women in Lurie’s work present an object of unfulfilled desire and of contempt.

Their pornographic cutouts are a metaphor for degraded and dehumanized Jews in the concentration camps.

In 1960 he founded the NO! art movement 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 pop-art that celebrates consumerism and to decorative “salon art” such as abstract expressionism.


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