lesser is me more or less

A photo­graph sealed under plex­i­glass and mounted (MDF), height 64 cm x width 86,64 cm (edition of 7)
(Edition of 7: height 32? cm x width 45? cm)

Insur­ance Value 2,000 Euros

lesser is me more or less features the artist Tanya Ury to the right of the picture, sitting in three-quarter view. Digi­tally incor­po­rated into the photo­graph and facing her to the left, is the German Impres­sionist Lesser Ury, Tanya Ury’s great-grand uncle, in a repro­duc­tion of his Selb­st­portät mit Dunklem Hut’ (Self-portrait with dark hat, 1914, 6440 cm). At the time, Lesser Ury was 53 years old and at the height of his powers. In this double portrait, the two Urys are more or less the same age, Tanya dresses and poses simi­larly to Lesser and mimics his facial expres­sion. At the centre of lesser is me more or less, conjoining the two picture halves, is the repre­sen­ta­tion of a scar and human scar tissue.

Double Portraits — a collec­tion of works:

Lesser Ury’s name was estab­lished in the 1880’s with his images of Berlin street scenes that depicted a city under­going the trans­for­ma­tion to Moder­nity. Ury was Jewish and a believer. The paint­ings of biblical themes are not so well known. It was his good fortune that he died in 1931; he was spared witnessing the down­fall of Germany and the anni­hi­la­tion of the Jewish people. After his death, the fate of his oeuvre was unsure; it was declared entartet’ (degen­erate) by the Nazis and many works were destroyed. A large amount was however, preserved by those private collec­tors who hid his works or emigrated, taking artworks with them to England, the USA and Israel.

In the 1930’s Tanya Ury’s parents fled Nazi Germany to England, where she was born and lived, until she moved to Germany to prac­tise art in 1993. After the war, the art of Lesser Ury was largely forgotten. Thanks to three retro­spec­tives in Berlin (1995 and 2002 in the Käthe-Koll­witz Museum, and 2002 in the Centrum Judaicum) Tanya Ury was able to acquaint herself with a collec­tion of Lesser Ury’s work that had been gath­ered together from many sources abroad.

In the 89 years that sepa­rate the two, pictured Ury’s, two world wars have occurred; Germany was divided and has again been reunited. Berlin is now expe­ri­encing a rebirth and expan­sion as it did during the Fin de Siècle of the 19th century; as a conse­quence, Lesser Ury’s Berlin cityscapes are once more much in demand. Tenta­tively and in recent years, Jewish artists have been returning to live and work in Germany. Whether the rean­i­ma­tion of a Jewish culture in Germany is possible now, and whether this attempt is Franken­steinian and bound to fail, are ques­tions that lesser is me more or less pose.


Ury has also created other artworks that might be consid­ered visual poetry. Moving Message 1992, incor­po­rates an LED sign displaying the words: you are why; Sonata in Sea 1999 – 2000 is a photo series combined with poetry and wrestle­with­y­ourangel 2001, is a neon sign produced together with the neon sign neonazi 2001; the title of a double photo portrait lesser is me more or less 2003 plays on the name of the German Post-Impres­sionist Lesser Ury, as does the title of a further double portrait or else 2007, which refers to the German writer Else Ury. The title of a third photo-portrait Beelze­bu­larin 2005 (in the Promised Land series) reveals itself to be an anagram of the biblical Bezalel Ben Uri. half dimen­sional — semi detached 2010, combines the first of the half dimen­sional poems with the photo­graph semi detached.

concrete – a collec­tion of works (including poetry series)

Concept: Tanya Ury
Camera and digital image processing: David Janecek


2003 (21.9 – 4.1.) Das Recht des Bildes, Jüdische Perspek­tiven in der Modernen Kunst (The Right of the Image, Jewish Perspec­tives in Modern Art), Museum Bochum (D)
2007 (11.3. – 9.4.) Connected, Group exhi­bi­tion, opening 12 am, Jewish Cultural Days, Altes Museum im BIS-Zentrum (Old Museum in the BIS Centre), Moenchenglad­bach (D) www​.connected​-mg​.de
2007 (23.3.) On the online Femi­nist Art Base: www​.brook​lyn​mu​seum​.org The Eliz­a­beth A. Sackler Center for Femi­nist Art, The Brooklyn Museum, New York (USA)

Publi­ca­tions & Press

The Power of Femi­ninity – Hubertus Wunschik has assem­bled an enor­mous range of art for a group exhi­bi­tion of inter­na­tional artists in the Alten Museum (Old Museum). The exhi­bi­tion Connected” combines the works of Jewish and non-Jewish provenance.

By Dirk Richerdt – Saturday 10th March 2007 RHEINISCHE POST

A glance directly inside the entrance to the bour­geois town house falls on the photo montages of Tanya Ury. The 55 year-old Jewish artist, born in London and living in Cologne since 1993, has created a series of dialogic self-portraits: one sees Ury together with antecedents, including the German impres­sionist painter Lesser Ury and the German Jewish writer Else Sara Ury. And then Albert Einstein turns up. Although she is not related to the scien­tist, Tanya Ury’s picture of the pipe-smoking researcher together with the artist, holding a (pipe) in the same manner, has a bizarre aura.

A humorous edge flashes up directly with the seri­ously intended repre­sen­ta­tion of personal history. Tanya Ury’s photos sealed under plex­i­glass there­fore lend the exhi­bi­tion a certain relief from earnest themes…” 


2008 (11) lesser is me more or less discussed in article on Tanya Ury (in German) by Hartmut Bomhoff, Jüdische Zeitung (monthly), Berlin (D) article as PDF www.j‑zeit.de
2019 (12) Tanya Ury’s artworks are discussed, as well as those of several other German artists, by Peter Chametzky, with images of lesser is me more or less, Who’s Boss: Röslein Sprach…, Who’s Boss: Art Prize Nr.4, and Who’s Boss: Hair Shirt Army (photo docu­men­ta­tion, at the exhi­bi­tion opening in EL-DE-Haus 2014, Cologne, by Peter Chametzky), in “’Turks, Jews, and Other Germans in Contem­po­rary Art’: An Intro­duc­tion,” The Mass­a­chu­setts Review (60th Anniver­sary Issue), vol. 604 (Winter 2019): p. 655 – 681. mass​re​view​.org/​s​i​tes/d… (USA)

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