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The Athlete's Dream

1956 Larry Rivers Born: New York, New York 1923 Died: Southampton, New York 2002 oil on canvas 82 1/8 x 118 7/8 in. (208.7 x 301.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1966.84.2 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

The Athlete's Dream is a composite of heads and body parts that captures multiple moments in time. Four images of Rivers's friend and lover Frank O'Hara stand at the upper left above several versions of Rivers himself seated below. The right half of the canvas is devoted to images of his mother-in-law Berdie, who lived with him and took care of his two sons. Blurry erasures, smears, and scrubbed areas of paint suggest figures in motion, psychological fragmentation, and the temporal and spatial shifts of dreams. Although Rivers normally made drawings in advance of painting, The Athlete's Dream has an improvisational, random quality that connects the canvas with the artist's life as a jazz saxophonist.

Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008

Keywords

Figure group

Occupation - sport - athlete

State of being - phenomenon - dream

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Larry Rivers

Born: New York, New York 1923 Died: Southampton, New York 2002

More works in the collection by
Larry Rivers