“I’ll try to put it another way,” he said. “When I look at a thing, it isn’t love of reality, or feeling for objects or people, or love or death or anything like that that I’m trying to express. It’s the looking itself that interests me. Working from that is my way of painting.”
- Larry Rivers in Conversations with Artists, Selden Rodman 1961
The Tibor de Nagy Gallery is honored to present a dynamic exhibition of works by Larry Rivers spanning from the mid-1950s to the late 1990s. The exhibition surveys a broad range of inventive methods and materials employed by Rivers over the course of his career: intimate works of graphite, collage, large-scale paintings, life-size sculptures and foam-sculpted relief-paintings. Just a dozen blocks south of the artist’s former studio on 14th Street, the gallery is proud to host the exhibition in its new downtown location at 15 Rivington Street. This is the fourth Larry Rivers exhibition since the gallery began representing the Rivers Estate in 2008.
At first glance, Larry Rivers’ diverse and varied visual modalities may appear disparate. Almost immediately Larry Rivers developed a unique artistic language of interdisciplinary practices. From Rivers’ early flirtations with Abstract Expressionism he would go on to trail-blaze the appropriation of pop imagery and incorporate newly available materials into his working vocabulary. Materiality was but one aspect of the artist’s heterogeneous interests: history, poetry, politics, sexuality, fashion and the private & public spheres. An erudite and autodidactic thread runs through his visual investigations. Employing such tropes as master copying and vocabulary lessons as a basis for art-making, he often returned to those works as generative for his own point of departure. With the aid of historical distance and curated juxtapositions this exhibition re-contextualizes and clarifies the creative diversity of Larry Rivers’ oeuvre.
Rivers was born in the Bronx as Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg. He changed his name to Larry Rivers in 1940 as he moonlighted as a jazz musician while studying music theory and composition at the Juilliard School of Music. He began painting in 1945, studying with Hans Hofmann and at New York University. The artist’s work has been widely exhibited and collected throughout the world. Within the last four years, seminal works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the City Museum of New York, the Smithsonian Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. His paintings are included in major museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Modern, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Centre Pompidou.