Larry Rivers

  • Born 1923 in Bronx, New York, USA
  • Died 2002 in Southampton, New York, USA

Artist, saxophonist, and bohemian Larry Rivers (born Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg) was born in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. He met his lifelong friend, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, while the two studied music at the Juilliard School in 1945–46. After studying painting with the Abstract Expressionist Hans Hoffman in 1947–48, he earned a degree in art education from New York University in 1951. Rivers started showing lusty, figurative work in 1948. His brushy version of an American history painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1953) anticipated Pop artists’ appropriation of familiar imagery in the 1960s. As part of the New York School, Rivers knew many notables, including landscape painter Jane Freilicher (1924–2014) and poet Frank O’Hara (1926–1966). He famously depicted O’Hara wearing only his boots in 1954, and in 1957 he was one of twelve U.S. artists in the 4th Bienal de São Paulo. A retrospective of his work toured five American museums in 1965; that same year he created his 76-panel multimedia work The History of the Russian Revolution. His documentary Africa and I, filmed with Pierre Dominique Gaisseau, was aired on the NBC television network in 1968. Ever seeking new media, Rivers later worked with video and neon.

Artworks by Larry Rivers in the exhibition