The exhibition Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try presented a portrait of an artist reckoning with devastating trauma, haunting memories, and an elusive, lifelong quest for freedom. Pictured here is Lurie’s “Untitled (37 Ludzas Street)” that was previously on view.

Boris Lurie, " Untitled (37 Ludzas Street)," 1946–49

Boris Lurie, “Untitled (37 Ludzas Street),” 1946–49. Oil on board. Courtesy of Boris Lurie Art Foundation.

A few months after occupying Riga, the Nazis confined all 30,000 of the city’s Jews into a rundown suburb, the newly established Riga Ghetto. In the Riga Ghetto, Lurie’s family shared tight quarters with other residents at 37 Ludzas Street. This eponymous painting conveys a desolate, unnatural stillness, with the swirling sky menacing an empty, snow-blanketed street. His girlfriend, Ljuba, lived around the corner; they met for the last time in a snowy courtyard nearby.

Barely six weeks after the establishment of the Ghetto, the SS announced “evacuations.” In truth, they intended to liquidate the entire Jewish population of Latvia, save for a small slave-labor force. Boris and Ilya, as able-bodied men, were eligible for labor instead of evacuation. Shaina made the wrenching decision to send them to ghetto’s small work camp, thus separating the family. She prepared a feast for their last meal together, and then Boris and Ilya left what had briefly become their family home. Decades later, he wrote, “This is the reason I still hate banquets, elaborate meals.”

Visit the Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try exhibition page to learn more about Boris Lurie.

Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try was made possible by The Knapp Family Foundation, Patricia Askwith Kenner & Family, and other generous donors.
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Special thanks to the Boris Lurie Art Foundation for its commitment to this presentation.