Note from Arthur Hughes ’60 on Artist Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie — rounded up by the Nazis from Riga’s Jewish ghetto in 1941 and a survivor of five concentration camps and liberated from Buchenwald — became an artist in New York in the 1940s, and was radically minded — is having an exhibition of his artwork at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, Cuba, September 22 to November 19.
Boris and his father, also a survivor, arrived in New York after the war with no money. Boris started the NO!art group on the Lower East Side in the late 1950s On Boris’s death at age 84 in 2008 he had inherited millions from his real estate father and had set up the Boris Lurie Art Foundation, which co-sponsors the Bellas Artes exhibition. Much of Boris’s story can be found on the foundation’s website.
Boris and his sculptor friend Rocco Armento on the victory of the Cuban revolution drove Rocco’s battered car to Miami and took the ferry to Havana to witness it. A few years later, Boris was attracted to Malcolm X’s ideas. He attended Malcolm’s May 1964 Militant Labor Forum. Boris is on the lower right of the photo of Malcolm at the forum. It appears on page 340 of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, by Jack Barnes.
Several of his works are in the “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City 1952-1965” through April 1 at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, Washington Square East at Washington Place.
He was in the Artists Section of the Peace and Freedom Party, Art Workers Coalition, and MUSEUM: A Project of Living Artists in the late 1960s, where I first met him.