The Athlete's Dream

  • Larry Rivers, The Athlete's Dream, 1956, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 1966.84.2

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

The Athlete's Dream
Not on view
82 1/8 x 118 7/8 in. (208.7 x 301.8 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • State of being – phenomenon – dream
  • Figure group
  • Occupation – sport – athlete
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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