Artist and Holocaust survivor Lurie dead

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The anti-pop-art artist died after a battle with a long illness.

9 January 2007

New York/Berlin (dpa) - The New Yorker art rebel and Holocaust survivor Boris Lurie, 83, died after a long, difficult illness Monday, the Berlin publicist Matthias Reichelt said.

Born in Leningrad in the former Soviet Union, Lurie was an artist and author who survived several different concentration camps run by Nazi Germany during World War II.

He moved to New York in 1946, where he and several artist friends founded the Anti-Pop-Art movement NO!art in 1959 which saw art as a motivator of social action.

For most of his life he dealt aggressively with the themes of war and the Jewish genocide. His most famous - as well as most controversial - work is the "Railroad Collage" of 1959 - a photo collage of a stripper disrobing on a flatbed rail car piled high with corpses from the gas ovens.

"The aesthetic was to process everything that burdens you," he said.

Lurie was seized by the Nazis at age 16 with his father and was moved from one concentration camp to another, ending in Buchenwald. His mother, sister and grandmother were murdered by the Nazis.

In the '60s and '70s, Lurie aimed his NO!art movement against the prevailing art direction of abstract expressionism and Andy Warhol's pop art.

Together with Stanley Fisher and Sam Goodman, Lurie advocated using art to come to grips with the themes of real life. For them, that included war and violence, oppression and colonialism, racism and sexism.

Lurie last exhibited in Germany in the 1990s. In 1995, there was a two-part exhibit at the Neuen Gesellschaft fuer Bildende Kunst (New Society for Fine Arts) in Berlin. His work was also shown at the memorial museum at Buchenwald concentration camp from December 1998 to May 1999.

A film about his life, "Shoah and the Pin-Ups," ran in German movie theatres in 2006 and was also shown in abbreviated form on German television.

While Lurie protested capitalist investments in the art market, his pieces are included in permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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