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Boris Lurie – Life with the Dead

On the artist's 100th birthday

Temporary Exhibition
Catalogue Cover „Boris Lurie. 100th Anniversary. Life with the Dead“, photo: Center for Persecuted Arts/Hatje Cantz
Catalogue Cover „Boris Lurie. 100th Anniversary. Life with the Dead“, photo: Center for Persecuted Arts/Hatje Cantz
4/20/24
11/24/24

With the exhibition LIFE WITH THE DEAD, the Boris Lurie Art Foundation, in collaboration with the Museum Center for Persecuted Arts, is bringing Boris Lurie's artistic work to the public on the artist's 100th birthday. It could hardly be more relevant at this time, with anti-Semitism, racism and right-wing populism growing worldwide.

The exhibition will be on view from April 20 to November 24, 2024 on the occasion of the 60th Venice Biennale.

Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista, Spazio Espositivo Badoer
San Polo, 30125 Venezia, Italy

Google Maps Plus Code: Venice C8QG+9C  

Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

Press preview from April 17th–19th, 2024

On April 17, 2024 there will be an opening reception as part of the preview of the biennale.

The Catalogue

A catalogue (English, Italian, German) will be published by Hatje Cantz Verlag to accompany the exhibition, with contributions from René Block, Achille Bonito Oliva and Tom Wolfe, among others.

Catalogue „Boris Lurie. 100th Anniversary. Life with the Dead“, photo: Center for Persecuted Arts/Hatje Cantz

Voices from the catalog:

“'We want to create art, not destroy it, but say clearly what we mean—and this at the expense of good manners,' wrote Lurie in 1961 at the opening of an exhibition at New York's March Gallery. Why can we future generations hope that Boris Lurie's art is more than just a historical pointing finger at the most terrible crime in human history? Probably because we have to!” — Prof. Dr. Jürgen Wilhelm

“With his art, Boris Lurie shows us the constant threat posed by the dark side of human existence. With this warning, Lurie wanted to raise our awareness, question the prevailing order, criticize and advocate for a more just and solidarity-based society.” — Saul Ostrow

“His art is radical, often difficult to bear, because its content is an expression of the terrible experiences of the Holocaust that Boris Lurie was exposed to, especially in his youth—so indescribably cruel that they can hardly be put into words, but must. These experiences shaped Boris Lurie as a person and were reflected in his artistic work. In the post-war period, well-known museums in the USA excluded him. Curators and gallery owners wanted nothing to do with his art. It was too hard or perhaps too honest for them.” — Rafael Vostell

Boris Lurie, Immigrant's NO!box, 1963 ©Boris Lurie Art Foundation

The exhibtion

Boris Lurie. Life with the Dead presents more than fifty works from 1950 to 1970 that illustrate his active commitment to social justice and the memory of the Holocaust. Boris Lurie, born in Leningrad in 1924 in a Jewish family and raised in Riga. He lost his mother, grandmother, sister and his childhood sweetheart on 8 December 1941 in the forest of Rumbula (Riga) in a mass shooting by the Nazis. These dead accompanied him every moment of his life. Boris Lurie survived the terror of the German concentration camps and emigrated to New York in 1946.

Boris Lurie was a co-founder of NO!art, a provocative art movement of the 1960s. His collages and sculptures are an expression of his rejection of the art market and Pop Art. They oppose the consumer society and the Americanization of the world. The works are characterized by subversion, irony, and strong political statements. In contrast to the consumerist American society, Boris Lurie, as a foreigner, saw the humanitarian abysses of his new reality of life.

Visitors will see works that address racism, war, oppression, and injustice. Lurie’s art is a powerful voice that denounces social ills and calls for action.

Trailer about theexhibition "House of Anita" (2021, Center for Persecuted Arts)

Exhibtion Space

The Scuola Grande is a historic building complex from the 14th century in San Polo, in the heart of Venice. It originally served as a religious brotherhood dedicated to the care of the poor and sick. Today, the complex is used for events and exhibitions and is an example of the architectural splendor of Venice in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Particularly noteworthy are the impressive Renaissance façade and the beautiful inner courtyard, which provides access to the exhibition rooms. The exhibitions take place in the Spazio Badoer and are presented on a movable wall system specially developed by Venetian architect Michael Klopfer and with newly installed lighting. The architecture of the exhibition has been approved by the Soprintendenza (Venetian Monument Preservation Authority).

The Spazio Badoer exhibition space on the ground floor next to the church of San Giovanni Evangelista has direct access from Campo San Giovanni Evangelista. It is the result of centuries of architectural changes and offers an impressive setting with exposed bricks and a wooden attic. The original structure of round stone columns, square brick columns and a wooden ceiling has been reinforced by a metal structure of round columns and black-painted beams. The original flooring, consisting of several stone tombs at ground level, was integrated into the renovated floor. On the walls are an altar, a wall stone tomb and three stone tombs as well as a stone table.

Visual identity

The visual identity of the exhibition reflects various techniques and contents of Boris Lurie, such as the striking lettering, the criticism of pop art, the shock effect, the collage technique or the contrasting of the atrocities of the Holocaust with the cultural-industrial exploitation of people. The visual communication never competes with Boris Lurie's works. Rather, it transfers the inner dynamic of his works to posters, catalogs and outdoor advertising by taking a step back within the exhibition itself in order to give the artworks as much space as possible.

The visual identity is developed by Gutes im Falschen - Büro für politische Kommunikation.

The national press contacts Kathrin Luz and Daniela Tobias as contact person at the Museum Center for Persecuted Arts are responsible for communication.

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Catalogue Cover „Boris Lurie. 100th Anniversary. Life with the Dead“, photo: Center for Persecuted Arts/Hatje Cantz
Boris Lurie, A Jew is dead, 1964 © Boris Lurie Art Foundation
Boris Lurie, Three Women, 1957 © Boris Lurie Art Foundation
Mockup of the exhibition Life with the dead at the Spazio Espositivo Badoer, photo: Gutes im Falschen/Center for Persecuted Arts
Entrance of the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista, photo: Center for Persecuted Arts
Boris Lurie, NO with Mrs. Kennedy, 1963 © Boris Lurie Art Foundation 
Mockup of the exhibition Life with the dead at the Spazio Espositivo Badoer, photo: Gutes im Falschen/Center for Persecuted Arts
Catalogue Cover „Boris Lurie. 100th Anniversary. Life with the Dead“, photo: Center for Persecuted Arts/Hatje Cantz
Entrance of the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista, photo: Center for Persecuted Arts
Boris Lurie, A Jew is dead, 1964 © Boris Lurie Art Foundation
Boris Lurie, NO with Mrs. Kennedy, 1963 © Boris Lurie Art Foundation 
Boris Lurie, Three Women, 1957 © Boris Lurie Art Foundation
Mockup of the exhibition Life with the dead at the Spazio Espositivo Badoer, photo: Gutes im Falschen/Center for Persecuted Arts
Mockup of the exhibition Life with the dead at the Spazio Espositivo Badoer, photo: Gutes im Falschen/Center for Persecuted Arts

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