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Larry Rivers

Rivers, Larry, 1923–2002, American artist, b. New York City as Yitzroch Loisa Grossberg. Originally a jazz saxophonist, he turned to art in the 1940s. Reacting against abstract expressionism, Rivers turned to the figure, as in his 1954 series of nude studies, including Double Portrait of Birdie. An excellent draftsman, a multimedia experimenter, and a cultural provocateur, he was among the first to use popular images in his paintings and was thus a forerunner of the pop art movement. Rivers reached the height of his powers in the mid-1960s and continued to paint in a figurative style, often incorporating into his work stenciled lettering, photographs, and other elements. His themes range from eroticism to social concern, and his canvases are painted in a lively and seemingly spontaneous manner, usually with a cleverly ironic edge.

See his autobiography (1992); study by S. Hunter (1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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