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compiled by Boris Lurie and Dietmar Kirves
Gallery Hundertmark | Cologne | Brüsseler Str. 12 | May 1988
Invitation flyer + Introduction + Anthology + Review

Info-Flyer #1
Info-Flyer #2

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BORIS LURIE: Introduction to "Feel-painting" exhibition by Boris Lurie:

These works continue my "Feel-paintings" from the early 1950's and on.

"Feel-paintings" are made by touching, caressing, almost "carving," as if to appear two-dimension-like, beating, scratching-a physical engraving of the emotionally loaded moment, with both hands, all fingers, elbows, fists, pressing against the surface-and leaving traces on paper or canvas (or other surfaces.)

A physical activity is imbedded the "maker," into the dimension of Infory, and carried out by movements of his arms and finger-muscles. If the first result is not satisfying, the canvas can undergo a second act, or more blind "Feel-treatment," or it can be thrown out. Usually it is the first imprint which is satisfactory.

The expressive power of the realized image seems to be defined by the force of the emotional stirring (an active or a passive one) preceding the physical act.

"Feel-painting" is antagonistic to pre-designed compositions, to improving or extending, as some, stemming out of Surrealist automatism, extend into painterly works; it should be incompatible to changes and refinements of compositions. It aims to rule out everything coincidental, and the accidental gesture.

The hand and finger movements of the "producer" consciously follow a program in his mind- even if he chooses later to subvert or to destroy his original intention during the "Touch-process."

The work process, technically, is a hindrance, full of delays caused by necessary preparation; colors or other work-materials need to be made in advance, and they cannot be changed quickly as far as density or other characteristics (as a pure expressionist painter might wish.)

Evaluating the result is a serious problem. Sincerely or not sincerely so, "Feel-painting" could result in positive judgment on everything that is created. And such an attitude could even be accepted, because each outcome, each "projection," truthfully portrays each "actual moment"-a record of unadorned "Time Almighty" in its progression. Furthermore, or even better so, the "maker" could accept, reject, and chose.

What does the "creator"- or observer-find in such a Rorschach work? Does the imprint visually convey the same or is it alike in its narrative or spirit? How much of his own history does the observer read into it? The blind image-maker should be able to bring the viewer at least close to a region of the maker's "Feel".

A narrative or non-objective painting can evoke different reactions and interpretations at different times by different spectators, even by the same person. Besides other aspects, "Time" is involved thereby. "Feel-painting" broadens and widens the theater of creative interpretation to a point were the observer becomes himself the director-as if becoming the producer of the "Rorschach" image. What the "maker" did not see at the time of making it, the viewer may see.

We are now in 1988, paradoxically belatedly after the actual facts, in something that can be called "After-Auschwitz". The holy fires of the rebellious 1960's have burned out, and left behind the consciousness of this gigantic "industry," viewed from the perspective of the ovens. We, the living, are under this shadow, whether we like it or not. No mass Pop and Yupp can change this.

In the opinion of its maker, "Touch-painting" is part of this unholy industry: "After-Auschwitz-art-making." It also may be deemed "Fast-art", since time is running faster, hounded by the economy (and hardly in the sense of the old optimistic Futurists!) But even better, it can be called "After-art". (I. e. after all "Art" with a capital A had been thoroughly finished.) The word "Art", now again under its economic and academic enclosure, should be used sparingly.

The speed, the shortness of minutes, translated into physical movement, enables one as well to move backwards in time-back with resilience, to the vanished lands. To bring them to the surface-Infories and layers of the lost, to call on the fingers of the ghosts. For backwards in time, as much as the mad dash ahead: is desperate, angry with love, and with hatred! feeling, scratching, beating against concrete walls-today.

* New York, May 14, 1988 (Translated: New York, January 14, 2004)

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Buchumschlag, VorderseiteWith contributions by Louis Aragon,
Isser Aronovici, Dore Ashton, Erje Ayden, Gregory Battcock, Herb Brown, Al Brunelle, Iris Clert, Fielding Dawson, Allan D'Arcangelo, De Hirsh Margules, Dov Or-Ner, Erro, John Fisher, Stanley Fisher, Gerard Gassiot-Talabot, Dorothy Gillespie, Esther Morgenstern Gilman, Augustus Goertz, Sam Goodman, Thomas B. Hess, Marcel Janco, Wolfgang Kahlke, Elmer L. Kline, Seymour Krim, Yayoi Kusama, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Boris Lurie, Mario de Micheli, Jack Micheline, Brian O'Doherty, Lil Picard, Harold Rosenberg, Barry N. Schwartz, Emanuel K. & Reta Shaknove Schwartz, Arturo Schwarz,
Paul Simon, Gertrude Stein, Michelle Stuart, Jean Toche, Wolf Vostell, Stella Waitzkin, Ray Wisniewski und Tom Wolfe.

Edition Hundertmark | Cologne 1988 | 530 p. | 284 img | 20.5 x 15 cm | Paperback | English/German

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On the publication of the first NO!art anthology (1989)

And what if the bomb never goes off? What then? Then tough talks will be held again in the planning offices ... What can ONE do? You don't dare. ONE can break up! ONE can push the button! Moles we are with drinking water in cans. Five liters for six marks. Buried in the depths, we run around in circles, forbidden to breathe air...Is the radioactive radiation still dangerous? Where are the measuring devices? Did someone crack a joke? Hahaha.... Translated with (free version)

A text by Thomas Bernhard, perhaps? Or a post-Chernobyl outpouring by Rainald Goetz? Neither: Sam Goodman wrote that in a manifesto for the Doom Show in 1961.

In 1973, on the occasion of a retrospective of the NO!art movement in Berlin, Heinz Ohff characterized it as "a kind of sect between Pop and Happening, with a dash of Critical Realism, which admittedly did not...tend toward Dada Realism, but rather toward art brut."

It was precisely against this classification mania of the art establishment that Goodman, Stanley Fisher and Boris Lurie, the founders of NO!art, fought with their various exhibitions, first in their own March Gallery. later in the Gertrude Stein Gallery between 1958 and 1964. NO!art was a fundamental opposition, born on the de'gout in the face of the hegemony of the non-committal aesthetic of Abstract Expressionism in a political situation of the "Cold War", connected with general rearmament, H-bomb euphoria and the still fresh memory of the horrors of Nazi crimes, concentration camps and gas chambers.

In Europe, the artists of NO!art as well as the activities of the group, in which at times also well-known names such as Allen Kaprow, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Erro and others participated, have hardly become known so far. After Goodman had already died in 1967 and Fisher followed him in 1980, Boris Lurie now succeeded in publishing a documentation of the NO!art activities. However, anyone expecting a glossy brochure of the kind that has since rehabilitated the last upright members of the avant-garde will be disappointed. The book, published by Edition Hundertmark, still shows in its layout the subversive character that was inherent in this movement. Reading it, however, quickly allows the reader to see the reasons for its continued ignorance. Even today, from the hindsight of 25 years, exhibitions, individual works, and the artists' ideas made public in pamphlets have high provocative value. From the "Vulgar Show" and the "Involvement Show" (in which an active intervention in the power structures of art and society was unmistakably demanded of every visitor), both in 1961, to the legendary "Doom Show" (theme: nuclear overkill), which could also be seen in Italy, an increasing precision and sharpness of attack could already be detected. The climax and at the same time the end of the movement was then marked by the NO!SculptureShow/Shit Show(1964) organized by Goodman and Lurie, in which feces were presented according to strictly formal criteria.

The photographic documentation of these activities still breathes, and today: already again, the breath of the taboo violation, of the cultural-political radical artistic attitude. Here one finds much that has come to our plate as postmodern cynicism since the beginning of the 1980s, already unmistakably formulated 20 years earlier. The photographic section is accompanied by a collection of texts with contributions from various personalities. Personal statements, letters, appreciations, critiques, and theoretical reflections, including a little-known text by Gregory Battcock from 1971, alternate. The lineup of names is illustrious: Iris Clert, Wolf Vostell, Aragon, Seymour Krim, Marcel Janco, Lil Picard, Dore Ashton, Mario de Micheli, and Tom Wolfe are among the authors.

Since the realization of this documentation took 20 years, the period for the creation of the texts is also correspondingly large. But this testifies to the continuous topicality of the ideas that Lurie never tires of proclaiming. Regarding his "NO!posters" (1964), which exhibit similar recycling methods of the image as Polke/Kohlhöfer's, he says they are "the spontaneous expression of a self-cleansing machine that rebels against its abuse in society with its own inherent mechanics." Aesthetic indifference with strong moral shock - here is an important pre-chapter for the 80s to discover.

Source: Kunstforum, Band 99, Cologne, March/April 1989, p. 352-53

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Friedemann Malsch has been director of the Liechtenstein State Art Museum in Vaduz since 1996. He is the author of numerous publications on modern and contemporary art. more

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