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Release: April 19, 2002

NO!art exhibition at UI Museum of Art April 27-June 23

“NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom,” the first North American retrospective exhibition devoted to a pivotal mid-century collective of activist artists, will be on display at the University of Iowa Museum of Art April 27-June 23.

Admission to the museum and to the exhibition will be free.

The NO!art collective was active in New York in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Founded by Buchenwald survivor Boris Lurie, along with Sam Goodman and Stanley Fisher in late 1959, the group’s confrontational works of art draw on commercial images, pin-up nudes and photographs of war atrocities. These disturbing and powerful works were created in response to the contrast between the superficial consumer culture of the postwar era and the horror of the recent past, including the Holocaust and the atomic crises of the cold war.

Originally identified as the March Gallery Group, the members of the NO!art collective espoused street art, graffiti, Beat poetry and what they described as “violent expressionism.” While NO!art artists were described as the new “Social Realists” by some contemporary critics, the collective has been largely overlooked by art history.

“NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom” and its accompanying catalogue feature some of the collective’s most important works, in which political and social protest are critically linked to the development of assemblage art and happenings. By stressing the influence of these activist artists, the exhibition and the publication casts a new light on the history of postwar modernism, which traditionally presented the New York art world of the early 1960s as largely apolitical.

Concentrating on the years 1959-64, the exhibition presents a cross-section of collages, assemblages and installations by Lurie, Goodman, and Fisher. The exhibition also includes important artworks by Allan D’Arcangelo, Herb Brown, Dorothy Gillespie, Esther Gillman, Allan Kaprow, Yoyoi Kusama, Suzan Long, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Lil Picard, Michelle Stuart, and Wolf Vostell, and other artists associated with the NO!art collective.

“NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom” was organized by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, where it was previously shown, and organized by Estera Milman, director of Alternative Traditions in the Contemporary Arts at the UI. In addition to the brief catalogue accompanying the exhibition, an anthology of scholarly papers on NO!art will be published by Northwestern University Press. Milman will serve as a contributing author and guest editor.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information in the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web. Information on other UI arts events is available at