—Exhibition presents never-before-seen artworks and artifacts from artist and Holocaust survivor Boris Lurie—
“This exhibition deserves serious attention from the art world.” – Hyperallergic
“A story of survival.” – Art Fix Daily
(New York, NY)— Due to an enthusiastic response, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust announces that Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try, a first-of-its-kind exhibition on the 20th century artist and Holocaust survivor and the Museum’s first contemporary art show, will be extended until November 6, 2022. The exhibition originally was scheduled to close on April 29, 2022.
The seven-month extension reflects the exhibition’s success and its positive reception among visitors and critics alike. “A story of survival,” wrote Art Fix Daily. The Guardian wrote that there is “beauty and horror found in the nearly 100 pieces.” “This exhibition deserves serious attention from the art world,” wrote Hyperallergic. Lurie’s violent images have an “incongruously dreamy quality,” wrote J. Hoberman in Tablet Magazine. “Lurie believed he earned the right to represent his experience any way he wished.”
“It has been an honor to have this powerful exhibition on display,” says Jack Kliger, President & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. “We are pleased to extend its run to give more visitors the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust through Mr. Lurie’s first-person, artistic account.”
“The Boris Lurie Art Foundation is moved by all the praise that the exhibition has received, and we are proud to be partnering with the Museum to present Mr. Lurie’s lesser known, but undeniably powerful, earliest body of work,” says Gertrude Stein, Director of the Boris Lurie Art Foundation.
“It has been a privilege for me to share the genius of Boris Lurie, a self-taught and deeply expressive artist, and to receive such profound feedback from visitors. I am so heartened that the exhibition succeeds in conveying some degree of the enormity of the trauma inflicted by the Holocaust through the intimate and emotional exploration of one man’s loss,” says Guest Curator Sara Softness.
Centered around the paintings and drawings in Lurie’s so-called “War Series,” as well as never-before-exhibited objects and ephemera from his personal archive, Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try presents a portrait of the artist reckoning with devastating trauma, haunting memories, and an elusive, lifelong quest for freedom. In drawing together artistic practice and historical chronicle, Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try is fertile new territory for the Museum of Jewish Heritage, offering a survivor’s searing visual testimony within a significant art historical context.
Boris Lurie (1924– 2008) grew up in cosmopolitan Riga, Latvia in the 1930s. He was just 16 years old when Latvia was occupied by the Nazis in 1941, and he and his family were forcibly evacuated to a ghetto. Later that year, his mother, grandmother, sister, and girlfriend were murdered, alongside approximately 25,000 other Jews, in what would come to be known as the massacre at Rumbula. In the years that followed, Lurie and his father together survived several labor and concentration camps throughout Latvia, Poland, and Germany, until liberation from Buchenwald-Magdeburg.
Lurie created his “War Series” in the immediate aftermath of the war, following his service with the United States Counter Intelligence Corps and subsequent immigration to New York.
In nearly 100 paintings and drawings made, with few exceptions, in 1946, the “War Series” ostensibly contains Lurie’s experiences of the war in a highly graphic, expressionist style: nightmarish camp scenes in riotous colors, laborers at work in striped uniforms, stark landscapes cut through with barbed wire, amorphous dream-like visions, and searing portraits. As suggested by their somewhat unfinished, chaotic style, as pages ripped from a notebook, Lurie considered these pictures a private catharsis, and never exhibited them in his lifetime.
Included in the exhibition is Lurie’s only known self-portrait as a young man, in which he appears disembodied with a plaintive expression. There is also the exhibition’s largest masterpiece—a ghostly concentration camp scene, 50 by 50 inches in scale, painted in 1971 after the original “War Series” was made.
Nothing To Do But To Try is the first Boris Lurie exhibition exclusively to consider the entire “War Series,” alongside Lurie’s original family photographs, correspondence, diary entries, and assorted ephemera, as an essential origin story for Lurie’s life and work.
“The basis of my art education I obtained in a camp like Buchenwald,” Lurie once wrote, alluding both to his lack of professional training and to how his traumatic experience became rich, if fraught, artistic terrain—his survival itself the ultimate creative act.
For more details on these and other events, visit: https://mjhnyc.org/current-events/
Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try is curated by Sara Softness, an interdisciplinary curator and writer.
Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try is made possible by The Knapp Family Foundation, Patricia Askwith Kenner & Family, and other generous donors.
Special thanks to the Boris Lurie Art Foundation for its commitment to this presentation.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit:
- $18 Adults
- $12 ADA/Access, Seniors, Students, Veterans
- FREE to children under 12 and NYC DOE K-12 students
- FREE to Holocaust Survivors, active members of the military, first responders
HEALTH & SAFETY
To ensure compliance with local health and safety guidelines, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all Museum visitors 12 and older. Visitors 5-11 years old are required to show proof of a full regimen of a COVID-19 vaccine, just like individuals who are 12 and older. For more detailed information on the Museum’s safety protocols and requirements, visit: https://mjhnyc.org/visitor-information/health-and-safety/
Museum hours are:
Sunday and Wednesday: 10AM to 5PM
Thursday: 10AM to 8PM
Friday: 10AM to 3PM
The Museum will be closed on all other days, Thanksgiving, and major Jewish Holidays.
Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
36 Battery Place, New York City
About the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. The Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The third-largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second-largest in North America, the Museum of Jewish Heritage anchors the southernmost tip of Manhattan, completing the cultural and educational landscape it shares with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage maintains a collection of almost 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies and contains classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition galleries, a resource center for educators, and a memorial art installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. The Museum is the home of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.
The Museum’s current offerings include Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try, a first of its kind exhibition on the 20th century artist and Holocaust survivor on view through November 6, 2022.
The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.
About the Boris Lurie Art Foundation
The Boris Lurie Art Foundation is dedicated to reflect the life, work and aspirations of the founder and to preserve and promote the NO!art movement with its focus on the social visionary in art and culture.
The Foundation maintains the artist’s massive body of work, poetry, personal writings and archives, as well as the works of other NO!art artists which are under its control, making them available to the public and institutions of learning throughout the world.
In the spirit of Mr. Lurie’s bequest, the foundation supports a variety of initiatives, including exhibitions, publications, films, acquisition, internships, and grants. Through this range of activity the Boris Lurie Foundation believes it will make a material contribution to the artistic, social and educational life of the community.