Boris Lurie was born in 1924 in Leningrad, Russia and moved to Riga, Latvia in 1925, where he grew up. In 1941, the Germans entered Latvia. More than 90% of the Latvian Jewish community was lost during World War II. Boris and his father survived four years inside the Nazi camps and in 1946 immigrated to America to live in New York where Boris continued to paint, as he had done in Riga.
Lurie is a controversial artist. In his work, Lurie asks the viewers to confront bloody massacres, domination, political injustice and the Jewish holocaust. In the late 1950's he started to work on large collages, where he tore up war images and pasted them next to photographs of pin-up girls. Around 1958, Lurie formed a group of artists that exhibited together at the "March Gallery", a small space in an area known for cooperative galleries on
10th street in Manhattan. They put on shows by "themes", calling for political awareness and social involvement through works of art that criticize the culture. This "protest-art" was not accepted by the "American art establishment" of the time. Later, in the 1960's, they came to be known as the NO! Artists.
"NO!art Man" tells the life story of Boris Lurie as a young artist in New York after World War II through the years he was active with his NO!art Group and into the present. It documents the many striking transitions in his life, from being ignored by the art establishment, to increasing contemporary prominence, as when German artists showed an interest in his work and invited him to exhibit at the former East-German concentration camp Buchenwald, where he had been imprisoned. The film discusses both his initial loneliness in New York City, where he felt alienated, and current recognition as evidenced by a major retrospective which opened in Chicago, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, in November 2001. This exhibition presented the work of Lurie and other NO!art artists for the first time in America, more then 35 years after their March Gallery installations.
The film is based on conversations between the director, Amikam Goldman, and Boris Lurie, from their first meeting in 1999 through 2001. The film also includes interviews with art historians, dealers, and artist friends of Boris Lurie.