Known as the Godfather of Pop Art, New York based multi-disciplinary artist Larry Rivers sought to continually redefine formal and conceptual artistic boundaries for over half a century. Rivers’ keen draftsmanship and interest in history is ever present in Rivers’ expansive nonlinear oeuvre.
Fascination for newly developed materials causing an unexpected and unorthodox artistic evolution. Starting from a hybrid version of representational abstract expressionism Rivers traveled through the appropriation of pop imagery and would continue further into the use of nontraditional mediums such as plastics, foam board and even video recording technology. Subject matter could span from the extreme or political, such as drug use or the Holocaust, to the common and familiar, like Hollywood or advertisements, to the personal by way of his family or mother-in-law Beridie. Larry Rivers unconventional, even controversial, means and methods for artistic manufacturing were sometime difficult to define or understand at the time and it is that maverick spirit which has put his work as well as himself firmly into the 20th century discourse of art history.
In the Bronx, it was to Samuel and Soyna Grossberg, Ukrainian Jewish Immigrants, that Yitzorch Loiza Grossberg was both in August of 1923 and would later change his name to Larry Rivers while working with the Jazz group “Larry Rivers and the Mudcats”. The early to mid-1940s saw Larry as a Jazz saxophonist in New York City where he was studying at Juilliard and collaborating with the likes of Miles Davis yet influence from Nell Blaine redirected his artistic endeavors to study with Hans Hofmann and thus led to developing creative relationships with Jane Freilicher, Louisa Matthiasdottir and Frank O’Hara. By the mid-1950s Rivers would experience an unexpected breakout success on the art scene of New York and by 1965 had his first comprehensive retrospective. For the half-century to follow between New York City and the Hamptons Larry would expand his artistic explorations and continue to do so until his passing in August of 2002.
Despite Larry Rivers diverse bodies of art he experienced extensive exhibiting nationally as well as internationally during his career and has therefore led to the acquisition of his works into many notable private and public collections. Such collections include the Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The recognition of his works as an integral component to the development of modern American art continues to gestate as museum exhibit Rivers alongside many of the influential creative groups that he associated with such as the New York School of Poets, the Beat Poets and the Abstract Expressionists.