Larry Rivers

born New York City 1923-died Southampton, NY 2002
New York, New York, United States
Southampton, New York, United States
Active in
  • Southampton, New York, United States

Born Larry Grossberg in the Bronx, Rivers started his career as a jazz saxophonist in 1940. While studying at the Juillard in 1944, a fellow student reportedly introduced Rivers to the work of Georges Braques-sparking an interest in painting. In 1948, he enrolled in the art education program at New York University and received his degree in 1951.

Rivers is a versatile artist who has worked in a wide range of media. Recognized for his interest in historical images and themes, he has also produced a number of collaborative works with other artists, including poets Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch and sculptor Jean Tinguely. Additionally, Rivers has designed stage sets, for Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and for two of LeRoi Jones's plays, and worked with Pierre Gaisseau on the television documentary "Africa and I."

Therese Thau Heyman Posters American Style (New York and Washington, D.C.: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the National Museum of American Art, 1998)

Artist Biography

Larry Rivers was born in the Bronx, New York, to Samuel and Sonya Greenburg in 1925. He changed his name to Larry Rivers in 1940 upon embarking on a career as a jazz saxophonist, which was interrupted by a year in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1943. In 1944 Rivers studied music theory at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. After a fellow musician showed him a painting by the French artist Georges Braque, Rivers spent a year painting at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. In 1947 he studied at Hans Hofmann's school of painting in New York and Provincetown. His first solo exhibition took place at the Jane Street Gallery in New York in 1949. Rivers received a BA in art education from New York University in 1951. His work encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture, and lithography as well as documentary film, video and computer art.

National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)