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Boris Lurie painted and drew a series that depicted his experiences in the Holocaust.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage has announced an exhibition that will open on October 22 and will showcase the work of artist and Holocaust survivor Boris Lurie.

Titled Boris Lurie: Nothing to Do but to Try, the exhibition will feature Lurie’s early work known as the “War Series” as well as objects from the artist’s personal archive that will provide some insight into Lurie’s life, which was filled with trauma and a search for freedom.

Lurie grew up in Latvia in the ’30s and was 16 when the Nazis occupied the Baltic in 1941. His family was evicted to a ghetto and, later that year, his mother, grandmother, sister and girlfriend were murdered together with 25,000 other Jews in the massacre at Rumbula. During the rest of the war, Lurie and his father survived multiple moves to concentration camps in Latvia, Poland and Germany until they were liberated from Buchenwald-Magdeburg.

Lurie’s “War Series” was created after the war in 1946, following his immigration to New York, and consists of highly graphic depictions of Lurie’s experiences in the Holocaust. The nearly 100 paintings and drawings have an unfinished quality to them, which is attributed to the fact that Lurie considered them his catharsis and never exhibited them as long as he lived.

The exhibit also includes the only known self-portrait of Lurie and a 127 x 127 cm. concentration camp scene painted in 1971.

“As a person and as an artist, Boris was ingeniously creative, in the sense of both imaginative and productive,” said guest curator Sara Softness. “Beyond his immensely expressive artistic talent, the exhibition really considers his devastating emotional life and how he existed in the world – all inescapably informed by his trauma.”

“Our institution is committed to centering the Holocaust’s victims and survivors in our every act of remembrance and education,” said the museum’s president and CEO, Jack Kliger. “We are very honored to present this deeply moving exhibition and to have this opportunity to examine Holocaust history through the artistic brilliance of Mr. Lurie.”

“The Boris Lurie Art Foundation is pleased to have the Museum of Jewish Heritage exhibit the work of Boris Lurie, a mid-century artist, who lived through the horrors of the war and wanted to document the history which would keep the memory alive for a more peaceful future,” said the foundation’s director, Gertrude Stein.

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