Boris Lurie | Untitled | 1951
Oil on canvas on wood fibreboard | 77 x 92 cm
© Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA
Boris Lurie, in a documentary film, 1995
After completing his “War Series” – which he termed his “private paintings” – Lurie stated his intention of transcending the realistic visual character of his works, seeing illustrative representations as “not really being art”. New York gave him sufficient stimulus for taking in stylistic alternatives and incorporating them in his own work.
The series entitled “Dismembered Women” marks the first attempt to redefine possibilities of artistic expression and, at the same time, goes one step further in processing the artist’s memories and experience. The first women in this series – prostitutes observed by Lurie in New York bars – bore the facial traits of the murdered women in his family. Later, the absurdly distorted and fragmented bodies would become more abstract and faceless, eventually mutating into amorphous objects on a monotone, spaceless background. Stylistically speaking, the works are not far removed from Léger’s massive bodies, but with the richly contrasting colours found in the picture compositions of the Russian Suprematism movement.
Lurie’s ambivalent, obsessive and problematic relationship with women and sexuality, clearly rooted in the dehumanising and humiliating experiences of his youth, can be seen in this picture series.