Boris Lurie | Suitcase | circa 1964
Assemblage: Collage of oil and paper on a leather suitcase | 38 x 58 x 17 cm
© Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA
From Seymour Krim’s introduction to the NO!show at Gertrude Stein Gallery, 1963
Boris Lurie earned harsh criticism for his Shoah-themed works of 1963/64. He was accused – understandably enough – of mocking Holocaust victims, of using cheap, calculated provocation to attract attention. No one ventured to think that some of the members of the NO!art movement might be victims themselves. In Lurie’s angry approach, which completely subverted all aesthetic criteria, the suitcase of the deported, disenfranchised and displaced is strewn with the coarse graffiti of the street. The bright yellow Star of David is affixed to the legs of a pin-up girl; the NO! appears in various forms; pictures of the recently liberated concentration camp inmates are juxtaposed with newspaper headlines. Emblazoned more clearly than anything else is “ANTI-POP”, the clear stance taken against the increasingly influential pop art, which was fast becoming the favourite of influential collectors and large museums.
It is Lurie’s anger and moral outrage about past and present evils that are reflected in the coarse style of his work, its sarcastic references anticipating many tendencies to come in the 1980s.