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Larry Rivers

(1923-2002)

Alias: Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg

Painter, Sculptor

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Biography

(b. 1923, New York, New York; d. 2002, Southampton, New York) American artist. Larry Rivers was born Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg in the Bronx in 1923. He began a career as a Jazz Saxophonist in 1940, and changed his name to Larry Rivers soon thereafter. From 1944-45 Rivers studied music theory and composition at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. In 1945, a fellow musician shower Rivers a cubist work by Georges Braque; this spurred Rivers to begin painting. From 1947-48 Rivers studied painting at Hans Hofmann’s School. In 1949, while studying at New York University, Rivers had his first one-man show at the Jane Street Gallery in New York. After graduating with a degree in art education from NYU, Rivers went on to have an extremely busy career; traveling and exhibiting at numerous galleries and museums all over the world. Rivers also collaborated with friends working in other disciplines. In 1952 he designed the stage set for close friend Frank O’Hara’s play “Try! Try!” From 1959-60, Rivers worked with Kenneth Koch on a collection of picture-poems. In 1966 he designed the sets and costumes for Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex”, which turned out to be very controversial. After 1957, Rivers began to use mass-produced designs from common products, which is seen as a precursor to Pop Art. Throughout his career, Rivers explored many different areas of expression including music, painting, sculpture, mixed media, poetry, acting, film, and teaching. Rivers’ work is seen as a bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

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