Boris Lurie in America
He Had the Courage to Say NO!
26 January - 26 April, 2020
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday:
A contemporary of Rauschenberg, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Johns, Boris Lurie arrived in New York in 1946, having survived nearly four years in Hitler’s death camps. He was just 21.
Over the next 60 years, his art became his life, his refuge, his therapy and his means of protesting the racism, anti-Semitism and social hypocrisy he encountered in the United States; its Cold War nuclear rivalry with the Soviet Union; and its interventionist policies abroad.
In 1959, he, Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher founded the NO!Art movement, reflecting Lurie’s views that artists should use their talent to protect and defend the interests of the people in the communities and countries where they live.
At this difficult time in our history, it is our hope that Boris Lurie’s legacy, his art and his courage, will serve as an inspiration for artists everywhere to express their political views in their art, to increase awareness and understanding of the political issues we’re confronted with today.
Boris Lurie Timeline
July 18, 1924 - Boris Lurie is born in Leningrad, the youngest of three children (Jeanna, Assya and Boris) of the Jewish couple Elja Lurja (Lurie) and Shaina Chaskin.
1925-26 - Elja, who had prospered during the New Economy Policy, moves his family to Riga, Latvia, where Boris and his sisters attend a German speaking Jewish school.
1934 - Kārlis Ulmanis, Latvian President, dissolves the Parliament in a bloodless coup and establishes a nationalist dictatorship.
1939 - Signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Latvia is assigned to the Soviet Union.
1940 - Soviets are back to rule Latvia for the first time since 1918. Revenges and purges by the Red Army.
July 17, 1940 - Soviet tanks enter Riga and Latvia is officially annexed to the Soviet Union as its 15th Republic
June 21, 1941 - Germany breaks the non-aggression pact and sends troops to attack Soviet forces in Operation Barbarossa. There are spontaneous uprisings by Latvians helping the Germans against the Red Army. Three weeks later Latvia is completely occupied by the Wehrmacht.
June 29, 1941 - German troops enter Riga. The Wehrmacht occupation is immediately followed by the notorious SS Einsatzgruppen, the operative group of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) that begin putting in act the Nazi Generalplan Ost, the Master Plan East by Erlich and Meyer for the colonization of Central and Eastern Europe.
October/November 1941 - Thirty thousand Jewish residents of Riga including the Luries are forced to move and live in the Ghetto.
December 8, 1941 - Rumbula Massacre. The Einsatzgruppe A under the command of SS Friedrich Jeckeln, head of the police, with the help of subordinates members of the dreaded Arajs Kommando, of Latvian auxiliaries and collaborators of the SD Group, round up between 25000 and 30000 human beings, the majority of which are Jews and Slavs, and kill them in the woods behind the Rumbula station, near Riga. Among them are Boris’ mother Shaina, his sister Jeanna, his grandmother and his sweetheart girlfriend LjubaTreskunova. Boris and his father are captured and imprisoned in the Lenta labor camp. Luckily in that moment the other sister, Assya, is in Italy and is able to fly to the United States without knowing what happened to her family.
1941-1945 - Boris will spend 4 years moving from concentration camps in Lenta, Salaspil, Stutthof and Buchenwald.
April 11, 1945 - Boris escapes from the liberated camp in Magdeburg-Polte, a satellite camp belonging to Buchenwald
1945 - He is employed as a translator by the US Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC)
1946 - Boris emigrates to the United States, arriving in New York with his father on June 18. “I got the papers to come over here. My sister was already in New York…I was very impressed with New York. Especially coming from Germany, which was totally destroyed, the cities completely flattened. The last place we were stationed was near Frankfurt. Frankfurt was nothing, just stones. So to come to New York was a shocking experience.”
1950 - Lives in Colombia street in the Lower East Side with sculptor Rocco Armento. Gets his first show in New York at Creative Gallery.
1951 - Exhibitions: Dismembered Figures at the Barbizon Plaza Galleries and several shows in the Coop-galleries on 10th Street in New York.
1954-55 - Lives and works in Paris and moves back to New York. The Vietnam war begins on November 1 of that year. It will last for 19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day until April 30th, 1975. Known in Vietnam as Resistance War Against America (Kháng chiến chống Mỹ).
1958 - Exhibitions: Black Figures, March Gallery in New York.
1959 - Boris Lurie founds the NO!art movement together with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher. The movements protests against wars, nuclear armament and decry the ascent of propaganda and dehumanization of consumer culture. Harold Rosenberg describes their work as “Pop, with venom added” without really grasping their mission. The NO!art group consists of the artists Rocco Armento, Isser Aronovici, Enrico Baj, Herb Brown, Allan D’Arcangelo, Erró, Dorothy Gillespie, Ester Gilman, Allan Kaprow, Yayoi Kusama, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Suzanne Long, Michelle Stuart, Aldo Tambellini and Wolf Vostell. Exhibitions: Drawings USA, Museum of Modern Art; 10th Street, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.
1960 - Exhibitions: Dance Halle Series, D’Arcy Galleries - Adieu Amérique, Roland de Aenlle Gallery - Les Lions, March Gallery - Vulgar Show, March Gallery and Joe Marino’s Atelier in New York; 10th Street New York Cooperative: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
1961 - Exhibitions: Pinup Multiplications, D’Arcy Galleries; Involvement Show, March Gallery; Doom Show at March Gallery in New York.
1962 - Two shows in Italy. In September Sam Goodman and Boris Lurie organized by Aligi Sassu at Galleria Arturo Schwarz in Milan; and in November Doom Show organized by Vittorio Rubiu at Galleria la Salita, Rome.
1963 - Exhibitions: NO!Show, Gertrude Stein Gallery, and Boris Lurie at, Gertrude Stein Gallery, New York.
1964 -Death of Ilja Lurje, Boris’ father, a successful businessman. The inheritance includes a house between Madison and Central Park. Exhibitions: NO&ANTI-POP Poster Show, Gallery Gertrude Stein, New York and Box Show, Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles.
1970 - Exhibitions: Art & Politics, Kunstverein Karlsruhe, Germany
1973 - Exhibitions: NO!art-Painting seit 1959, Galerie René Block, Berlin and Boris Lurie, at Galleria Giancarlo Bocchi, Milan
1974 - Solo exhibitions at Galerie Inge Baecker, Bochum and shows NO!art Bags, Galerie und Edition Hundertmark, Cologne; Boris Lurie and Wolf Vostell, Galerie Rewelsky, Cologne; NO!art with Boris Lurie, Sam Goodman and Marcel Janco, Ein-Hod Museum, Ein-Hod, Israel.
1975 - Exhibitions: Recycling Exhibition, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
1978 - Exhibitions: Counterculturale Art (with Erró and Jean-Jacques Lebel) American Information Service, Paris.
1979-1980 - Various exhibitions in Italy, Germany and Israel.
1988 - Publication of the NO!art anthology PIN-UPS, EXCREMENT, PROTEST, JEW-ART; Exhibitions: Feel Paintings, Galerie und Edition Hundertmark, Cologne.
1989 - Exhibitions: Graffiti Art, Nassausicher Kunstverein, Wiesbaden.
1990s - Works on his memoirs, as well as on the novel House of Anita, both published posthumously.
1993 - Exhibitions: Outlaw Art Show, Clayton Gallery, New York.
1994 - Exhibitions: NO!art (with Isser Aronovici and Aldo Tambellini), Clayton Gallery, New York.
1995 - Exhibitions: NO!art, Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst,; Boris Lurie und NO!art, Haus am Kleistpark,; Dance Hall Series, Endart Galerie, all in Berlin and Holocaust in Latvia, Jewish Culture House in Riga.
1998 - Exhibitions: NO!art Show #3 (with Dietmar Kirves, Clayton Patterson and Wolf Vostell), Janos Gat Gallery, New York.
1999 - Exhibitions: Works 1946-1998, Leben-Terror-Geist, (Life-Terror-Mind), Memorial Gedenkstätte Weimar-Buchenwald; and Knives in Cement, South River Gallery, (UIMA), Iowa City.
2002 - Exhibitions: NO!art and The Aesthetics of Doom, Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City and Block Museum, Evanston, IL.
2003 - Publication of his poetry collection Boris Lurie: Geschriebigtes/Gedichtigtes for the exhibition held at the Buchenwald memorial site near Weimar in 1999.
2004 - Exhibitions: Feel Paintings/NO!art Show #4, Janos Gat Gallery, New York Optimistic-Disease-Facility, Boris Lurie: New York-Buchenwald, Haus am Kleistpark, Berlin with Naomi Solomon.
2005 - Exhibitions: The 80s’ - Clayton Gallery and Outlaw Art Museum, New York.
January 7, 2008 - Boris Lurie dies in New York.
We wish to thank the Boris Lurie Art Foundation and especially its president, Gertrude Stein, for making this exhibition possible.