Boris Lurie

Biography

The fence around the ghetto in Riga, Latvia.

The fence around the ghetto in Riga, Latvia.

Boris Lurie was born 1924 in Leningrad, Russia, and grew up in Riga, Latvia. At the age of sixteen he was taken prisoner by the Nazis and imprisoned for a period of four years at Buchenwald and other concentration camps. After his liberation Lurie remained in Germany for a year and worked for the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence. He moved to New York City in 1946 and began his art career there. From 1954 to 1955 he lived and worked in Paris.

Boris Lurie first gained national attention in 1960. During this year he, along with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher, created the NO!art movement. The principle aim of NO!art was to bring back into art the subjects of real life. It thus stood in opposition to the two most popular movements of the era, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

For the most part critics and curators of the day rejected Lurie and NO!art. As he has stated, “The art market is nothing but a racket. There is an established pyramid which everybody who wants to benefit from it has to participate—if he is permitted to participate.” Yet Lurie continued to produce his highly charged political and social imagery and, in 1963, his now famous collage, Railroad Collage—which superimposed a pin-up girl in front of victims of a concentration camp—caused a major furor.

He died in 2008 in New York.

Links:

"Boris Lurie: Uneasy visions, uncomfortable truths," a biography by David H. Katz

1994 New York Press "Lost Art" – John Strausbaugh visits Boris's studio

New York Times obituary

Mail & Guardian obituary