Larry Rivers American, 1923-2002


Born in August 17, 1923, and raised in the Bronx, Larry Rivers was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, poet, and musician at the crossroads of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, who bucked prevailing trends in favor of a more singular style. The son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, he was known as Yitzroch Loiza (Irving) Grossberg until age 17, when a nightclub emcee announced his band as “Larry Rivers and the Mud Cats.” He adopted the name that same year. Following a brief stint in the U.S. Army, Rivers spent a year at the Juilliard School of Music studying musical theory and composition. He then pursued his only formal artistic training at Hans Hofmanns painting school in New York from 1947 to 1948. Countering the vogue for abstraction at the time, Hofmann’s approach emphasized drawing as the foundation of all art making and presented the old masters as rich resources for creative exchange. In 1951, Rivers received a BA in art education from New York University.

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