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Last updated: 6/23/2019
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Pop Art in America and Europe / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002)

Josef Albers / Richard Anuszkiewicz / Charles Arnoldi / Leonard Baskin / Jack Beal / Ed Baynard / Norman Bluhm
Richard Bosman /James Brown / Alexander Calder / Warrington Colescott / Christo / George Cramer / Allan D'Arcangelo
Willem de Kooning / Richard Diebenkorn /Jim Dine / Sam Francis / Sam Gilliam / Adolph Gottlieb / Philip Guston
John Himmelfarb / / Robert Indiana / Paul Jenkins / Jasper Johns / Allen Jones / Lester Johnson / Alex Katz / R. B. Kitaj
Ellsworth Kelly/ Nicholas Krushenick / Jacob Lawrence / Roy Lichtenstein / Richard Lindner / Manel Llèdos
Robert Motherwell / Reuben Nakian / Barnet Newman / Claes Oldenberg / Jules Olitski / Philip Pearlstein / Mel Ramos
Robert Rauschenberg / Don Reitz / Larry Rivers / James Rosenquist / George Segal / Alan Shields / Steven Sorman
Robert Stackhouse / Frank Stella / Carol Summers / Wayne Taylor / William (Bill) Weege / John Wesley / Tom Wesselman
Jack Youngerman / Adja Yunkers
Valerio Adami, Joan Gardy Artigas, Enrico Baj, Elizabeth Blackadder, Richard Bosman, Christo, Robert Cottingham, Allan D'Arcangelo, Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, R. B. Kitaj, Nicholas Krushenick, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Lindner, Claes Oldenburg, Peter Phillips, Mel Ramos, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, George Segal, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Saul Steinberg, Andy Warhol, John Wesley, and Tom Wesselmann
Jacquelyn Serwer, Chief Curator at the Corcoran (which is showing from 5/18 through 7/22/2002 the first comprehensive international retrospective of Larry Rivers' art, Larry Rivers: Art and the Artist, a long-overdue examination of his work spanning five decades of Rivers' career) has observed,"For much of his career, Rivers was seen by observers and critics as a revolutionary deliberately opposing prevailing movements for the thrill of challenging the status quo. By now we can see Rivers' rebellious moves as those of a true innovator whose once subversive ideas have become part of the accepted repertoire of contemporary art." In connection with a 1999 exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in New York City, the gallery quoted critic John Gruen, who wrote: "Early on, Rivers had developed a painting style he could call his own. It might be categorized as being semi-abstract, semi-realistic, pop-artish, post-romantic, or neo-classic. But whatever the label, it reflected (and still does) an untrammeled imagination, an extraordinary draughtsmanship,a color sense that has no truck with garishness or vulgarity, and an innate vitality that springs from Rivers' own restlessness and reflects itself with charged-up spontaneity, into whatever he paints."

Born in 1923 in the Bronx, New York, as Yitzroch Loiza (Irving) Grossberg. In 1940 he began a musical career as a jazz saxophonist and changed his name to Larry Rivers. In 1943 he was declared medically unfit for military service and worked until 1945 as a saxophonist in various jazz bands in the New York area. In 1944-45 he studied theory of music and composition at the Juilliard School of Music, New York. His first encounter with fine art was through a musical motif based on a painting by Georges Braque. He began painting in 1945. In 1947-48 he studied at the Hans Hofmann School. In 1948 he studied under William Baziotes at New York University and met Willem de Kooning. In 1949 he had his first one-man exhibition at the Jane Street Gallery, New York. In 1951 he graduated in art from New York University and met Jackson Pollock. His works were subsequently shown by John Myers until 1963. In 1952 he designed the stage set for Frank O'Hara's play "Try! Try!" In 1953 he completed Washington Crossing the Delaware. In 1954 he had his first exhibition of sculptures at the Stable Gallery, New York. In 1956 he began a series of large-format paintings and was included with ten other American artists in the IV. Bienal Do Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil. In 1958 he spent a month in Paris and played in various jazz bands. He also collaborated with the poet Kenneth Koch on the collection of picture-poems New York 1959-1960. In 1961 he married Clarice Price, an art and music teacher of Welsh extraction. In 1965 he had his first comprehensive retrospective in five important American museums. His final work for the exhibition was The History of the Russian Revolution. During 1966 he was in London collaborating with Howard Kanovitz. In 1967 he separated from his wife Clarice. He traveled in Central Africa and made the TV-documentary Africa and I with Pierre Gaisseau. In 1969 he began to use spray cans, in 1970 the air brush, and later, video tapes. In 1972 he taught at the University of California in Santa Barbara. In 1973 he had exhibitions in Brussels and New York. In 1974 he finished his Japan series. He was represented at documenta 6, in Kassel, Germany, in 1977. In 1978 he began his Golden Oldies Series, revising his own works of the fifties and sixties. In 1980-81 he was given his first European retrospective at Hanover, Munich and Berlin. (Based on the biography at WWW.PopArt)

"American painter and sculptor, born in the Bronx, New York. Served in the US Army Air Corps 1942-3, then after discharge on medical grounds earned his living for some years playing the saxophone. Started painting in 1945. Attended Hans Hofmann's school of painting 1947-8 and afterwards studied art at New York University under Baziotes 1948-51. First one-man exhibition at the Jane Street Gallery, New York, 1949. Though influenced by the Abstract Expressionists' free brushwork and spontaneous effects of surface, began to paint figure pictures of his family and friends, or based on compositions by Courbet, David, etc. Also began to make life-size figure sculptures in plaster and cement in 1951, and welded metal sculptures in 1957. From 1957, as a precursor of Pop art, made increasing use of images freely developed from mass-produced designs on cigarette packets, bank notes and so on; from the early 1960s also sometimes incorporated cut-out cardboard and wooden forms, electric lights, perspex boxes etc., in his work. Stayed in Paris 1961-2; in London 1964 and 1966-7. Lives in New York, spending his summers at Southampton, Long Island." (Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp. 637-8 ).

As Frank O'Hara said of Rivers, "I have known Larry Rivers since 1950. . . . It was at a cocktail party we met, as one always meets people in New York, and waving at the crowd he said, 'After all it's life we're interested in, not art.' A couple of weeks later when I visited his studio for the first time . . . he said with no air of contradiction or remembrance, 'After all, it's art we're interested in, not life.' His main interest was obviously in the immediate situation."

Selected Bibliography: Henry Geldzahler, Norman L. Kleeblatt, and Anita Friedman, Larry Rivers, History Of Matzah: The Story Of The Jews (NY: Jewish Museum, 1984); Carl H. Genlein, Larry Rivers. Retrospektive; Bilde und Skulpture (Hanover: Kestner-Gesellschaft, 1980); Helen A. Harrison, Larry Rivers (NY: HarperCollins, 1984); Sam Hunter, Frank O'Hara, and a statement by the artist, Larry Rivers (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University, 1965: first major U.S. Retrospective of Rivers' work shown at the Brandeis University Art Museum, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Jewish Museum, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and The Pasadena Art Museum); Sam Hunter, Rivers (NY: Abrams/ Meridian Books, 1971); Sam Hunter, Larry Rivers (NY: Arthur A. Bartley, 1989); Marlborough Gallery, Larry Rivers 1965-1970 (NY: Marlborough Gallery Inc., 1970); Marlborough Gallery, Larry Rivers Recent Works / Golden Oldies (NY: Marlborough Gallery Inc., 1979); Marlborough Gallery, Larry Rivers, The Continuing Interest in Abstract Art (NY: Marlborough Gallery Inc., 1982); Larry Rivers, Larry Rivers (NY: October House, 1965: Rivers' autobiography); Larry Rivers with Arnold Weinstein, What Did I Do?: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Larry Rivers (NY: HarperCollinis, 1992, pb. ed. 2001); Larry Rivers with Carol Brightman; intro. by John Ashbery, Drawings and Digressions (NY: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 1979); Larry Rivers, Public & Private (The Butler Institute of American Art, 1991); Barbara Rose and Jacquelyn Days Serwer, Larry Rivers: Art and the Artist (Boston: Bullfinch / Corcorran Gallery of Art, 2002); Kurt Vonnegut, Larry Rivers. Recent relief paintings (NY: Marlborough Gallery, 1989).
Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002), Dutch Masters. Original color screenprint with extensive hand-coloring, 1991. 95 signed, dated and numbered impressions on wove paper. Published by American Images. A clear, crisp example. Rivers was one of the first Pop Artists. Over the years, he has become recognized as one of the most important American artists of the second half of the 20th century. A wonderful example of painterly POP art. A few nearly invisible flaws along the edges, none larger than 1/32 of an inch save for one small tear at top right visible only to someone looking for it. By matting over the outer 1/8 inch of the sheet, none would be visible. Image size: 810x1013mm. Price: SOLD.
Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002), Camel Quartet. Original color lithograph & screenprint, 1978-90. 50 signed and numbered impressions. Printed by Styria Studios & published by Marlborough Graphics. Rivers was one of the first Pop Artists. Over the years, he has become one of the most important living American artists. Almost invisible surface abrasion by number. Image size: 522x417mm. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.
Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002), Big B Signs Up. Original color lithograph & screenprint, 1976. 175 signed and numbered impressions. Printed by Styria Studios & published by Transworld Art. Published in the portfolio, An American Portrait 1776-1976, the work shows Ben Franklin signing the Declaration of Independence. Image size: 498x642mm. Price: SOLD.
Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002), Pyrography: John Ashbery working. Original etching & photogravure with hand-coloring, 1984. 175 signed & numbered impressions of which twenty five were reserved for contributors to a deluxe edition of John Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Rivers was one of the first generation of Pop Artists. At the time of his death, he was acclaimed as one of the most important living American artists. Image size: 387mm diameter. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.
Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002), Bronx Zoo. Original color lithograph, 1983. 250 signed & numbered impressions printed by Styria Studios in NYC and published by the NY Graphic Society. Another impression of this work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in NY City. Rivers' works are in most major museums, including MoMA, the Hirshhorn, the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), & the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, U.K.) Image size: 663x864mm. Mat size: 32x40 inches. Price: Please call or email for current pricing information.

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