Westwood Gallery NYC in collaboration with Boris Lurie Art Foundation presents an exhibition of paintings, collage and sculpture by Boris Lurie (1924-2008), co-founder of the NO!art movement. In 2010 the gallery exhibited Boris’ early work, the first solo exhibition after the artist’s death. The current exhibition comprises a curated selection by James Cavello of over 60 works of art from the 1950s to 1970’s.
Each decade of Boris Lurie’s life as an artist represented hard-hitting expression and a creative cathartic journey. After surviving the horrors of the Holocaust, including four different 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. The 22 year-old Boris immersed himself in his art and became a disruptor of norms.
Boris’ early 1950’s paintings on dark backgrounds are reminiscent of German Expressionism with disproportionate, sometimes deformed fading images of women. On exhibit are four large paintings with groupings of two and three women. The female image was symbolic of life, family, death, sexuality and objectification. Boris’ 1960’s collages using pin-ups from ‘girlie’ magazines were startlingly incorporated into Holocaust photographs. The shock of the combination of images stemmed from Boris’ malevolence and art purge of crimes against humanity.
As his frustration with the art world grew due to the focus on Abstract Expressionists and later Pop art, Boris co-founded the underground NO!art movement in 1959 with fellow artists Sam Goodman (1919-1967) and Stanley Fisher (1926-1980). In the exhibition are paintings and collage reflecting the anti-establishment attitude and Boris’ free form expression without commercial motivation. They encompass the artist’s views on politics, society, art, personal experiences and visceral expression. At the time, NO!art was largely rejected by art critics, museums and collectors, until the artists and artwork of NO!art became more understood in the historical context.
Also included in the exhibition are a series of 1963 collages fixated on altered images of the establishment male in a tie with faces painted over (‘Cabot Lodge’), as well as 1970’s assemblages, such as the Star of David in hand-formed cement attached to rope, cement lettered NO!art bras, corset and a set of painted Israeli flags. All are symbolic of Boris’ intrinsic language. The assemblage sculptures allowed him to form media using his hands, but never to capitulate to art market sculptural commerce.