The Disgust and Revulsion of an Artist for whom the World No Longer Made Sense

Program Director Cilly Kugelmann on the Exhibition “NO COMPROMISES! The Art of Boris Lurie”

Two men with a pistol, a portrait of Hitler, and a (in large part covered) swastika flag

“As this image of Lurie with his brother-in-law Dino Russi from 1946 shows, the NO!art artists, in reclaiming the swastika symbol, robbed it of its symbolic value.” (Cilly Kugelmann)
Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York

Our major retrospective dedicated to Boris Lurie opens 26 February 2016 (for more information see www.jmberlin.de/lurie/en). Blog editor Mirjam Bitter spoke with Cilly Kugelmann about the artist, his provocative work, and the possible impact today of the taboos that he broke throughout his career.

Mirjam Bitter: What is your view of Boris Lurie? What sort of a guy was he? What distinguished him as an artist?

Cilly Kugelmann: The man and the artist Boris Lurie was shaped by his experience of persecution and concentration camps under the Nazi regime. And yet, unlike other artists who faced similar experiences, I feel he cannot be described as a “Holocaust artist.” With the exception of some early drawings from 1946 and a few paintings from the late 1940s, he neither chronicled these events nor sought to interpret the Holocaust artistically in his work.

Then what role did the Holocaust play in Lurie’s work?  continue reading


“If I were a rich mouse …”

— the Hanukkah Message?

The hanukkah candelarium described in the text on a table together with presents, a lamp and a dreidel

Mice with a vice
Photo: CC-BY Michal Friedlander

I have been using the same Hanukkah lamp for nearly 20 years. I find it aesthetically-challenging and totally impractical: it is difficult to clean and the candles fall out. Yet I persist in using it because it provokes me to think. When I put the illuminated, figurative lamp on the windowsill to publicly “proclaim the Hanukkah miracle of light,” the same three questions always resurface in my mind: “Who designed this lamp?,” “What were they thinking?,” and, “Are Mickey and Minnie Mouse actually Jewish?”  continue reading


Mensch or Might?

Impressions of the “Obedience” Exhibition, from Muslim and Christian Perspectives

A woman with short hair (left) and a woman with a blue headscarf (right) speaking in a microphone

Silke Radosh-Hinder and Emine Erol in the “Golden Room” © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svea Pietschmann

During the recent “Long Night of Museums” event, visitors were given a unique introduction to our current temporary exhibition “Obedience. An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway,” when the imam Emine Erol and the pastor Silke Radosh-Hinder led guided tours together. We asked the two women what they made of the occasion, and whether the joint guided tours had opened up novel views and perspectives on the biblical story.

Ms Erol, Ms Radosh-Hinder, would each of you describe the exhibition in your own words?

Silke Radosh-Hinder: For me, the exhibition is above all an opportunity to examine the story of the Binding of Isaac from a myriad of perspectives.

Emine Erol: The primary focus of the Obedience exhibition is the frame of mind of Ismael/Isaak respectively of his father Abraham. By prompting an emotional response and reflection, it helps visitors understand, ultimately, that such surrender may be dangerous or possibly even fatal—and also to understand what may motivate it.  continue reading