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


Statistics and Sticky Notes

On Identifying Museum Visitors and What Moves Them

A young woman with a bouquet of flowers

The ten-millionth visitor Paula Konga in November 2015 © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svea Pietschmann

Gleeful excitement in the museum lobby, for we are greeting our ten-millionth visitor since the opening in 2001, and we are all ears. “It’s my day off and I want to take the opportunity to revisit the permanent exhibition,” the 33-year-old Berliner Paula Konga tells us. An architect by profession, she is particularly interested in Daniel Libeskind’s design of the museum. “The building is well worth visiting more than once, also for Berliners.” No sooner have we handed over a bouquet of flowers and a one-year-membership in the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin Association than our guest of honor vanishes into the ramified spaces of the Libeskind Building (further information about the Libeskind Building can be found on our website).

Next, a group of Italian schoolchildren pushes past me, another museum visitor asks me to switch his audio guide to French, and a group of British teenagers mills about in search of a young man in a red cap. The seething mass sets me thinking: What actually moves you here, in the Jewish Museum Berlin?  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