Larry Rivers Catalogue
Larry Rivers
Chronology
1923
Born in the Bronx, New York to Samuel and Sonya Grossberg.
 
1940
Began career as a jazz saxophonist, and changed his name to Larry Rivers.
 
1942
Enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
 
1943
Honorable discharge from the armed forces for medical reasons.

Resumed career as a musician.

 
1944
Studied music theory and composition at the Juilliard School of Music, New York. This was his first exposure to art when a jazz musician showed him a painting of a bass fiddle by Georges Braque.
 
1945
Began painting at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

Married Augusta Burger.

His son Steven is born.

 
1946
Separated from Augusta.

Moved to Manhattan.

He began to meet painters, poets and dancers.

 
1947
Enrolled in Hans Hofmann’s school of painting in New York and Provincetown.
 
1948
Enrolled at New York University as an art education major.
 
1949
First one-man exhibition.
 
1950
First trip to Europe, spending eight months in Paris writing poetry.

On returning to New York began painting full time, living with mother-in-law Bertha “Berdie” Burger and sons Joseph and Steven.

 
1951
Graduated B.A. in Art Education from New York University.

First of eleven annual solo exhibitions (Except 1955) at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, organized by representative John Bernard Myers.

Rivers began sculpting in plaster.

 
1952
Designed sets for the play “Try! Try!” by Frank O’Hara, produced for the Artists’ Theater by John Bernard Myers.
 
1953
Painted Washington Crossing the Delaware.

Moved to Southampton, Long Island.

 
1954
His first Exhibition of Sculpture took place.

First painting acquisition (the Burial, by the Gloria Vanderbilt Foundation).

 
1955
First Major Museum acquisition (Washington Crossing the Delaware, by the Museum of Modern Art).

Won third prize in the Corcoran Gallery National painting competition for self-figure.

 
1956
One of twelve artists representing America at the “IV Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo,” Sao Paulo, Brazil.
 
1957
Mother-in-law Berdie Burger dies at age 66.

Began sculpting in welded metal.

Rivers began collaborating with Frank O’Hara on Stones, a series of lithographs of illuminated poetry.

He won $32,000 on the TV show “The $64,000 Question.”

 
1958
Spent a month in Paris playing around town in several jazz bands.
 
1959
Having gone to Cedar Tavern for many years, comes away with a poem wrapped in a Cedar Bar menu. Instead of illustrating the poem (his original intention), he painted Cedar Bar Menu I.

Seagram’s building purchased Me II.

 
1960
Began collaborating with Kenneth Koch on painting-poems.
 
1961
Married Clarice Price.

Painted in a studio in Impasse Ronsin where he met, became friends with Jean Tinguely.

 
1962
The first Rivers-Tinguely collaboration, The Friendship of America and France, was shown at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs.

London’s Tate Gallery purchases Parts of the Face: French Vocabulary Lesson.

 
1963
Completed the commissioned First New York Film Festival Billboard.
 
1964
Traveled to Europe and North Africa.

Rivers was an informal artist-in-residence at the Slade School of Fine Arts, London, from January to June.

His daughter, Gwynne, was born.

 
1965
First comprehensive retrospective exhibition, of 170 paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints, toured five U.S. museums.

Prepared The History of the Russian Revolution: From Marx to Mayakovsky for inclusion in the final exhibition at the Jewish Museum.

 
1966
Designed sets and costumes for Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, with the New York Philharmonic under Lucas Foss.

Death of intimate friend and collaborator Frank O’Hara.

His daughter, Emma, was born.

Winter of 1966-1967 spent in London.

 
1967
Separated from Clarice Price.

He traveled to Central Africa to film the television documentary "Africa and I" with Pierre Gaisseau.

Participated in the Museum of Modern Art’s memorial exhibition for the late poet and curator Frank O’Hara.

 
1968
Returned to Africa with Gaisseau to complete documentary film. Rivers narrowly escaped execution as a suspected mercenary.

Completed giant two-part Boston Massacre murals for the New England Merchants National Bank of Boston.

 
1969
Completed Forty Feet of Fashion for the Smithhaven Mall.

Began working with spray cans.

 
1970
Completed Some American History for the De Menil Foundation, receiving highest price ever paid for a commissioned work.

In a natural progression, working with spray cans led to airbrush painting and use of acrylics.

He began working with videotape.

 
1971
Traveled through Oregon and California.
 
1972
Returned to California and taped video segments for an operatic treatment of Kenneth Koch’s poem, The Artist, which was performed at the Whitney Museum, New York.

Taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

 
1973
Traveled to Sweden for group show at the Swedish Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, where his work Living at the Movies, was exhibited.

Began series of paintings based on The Coloring Book of Japan.

 
1974
Completed the Japanese series, shown at Marlborough Gallery.
 
1975
Traveled to Africa, where he made a short videotape with Peter Beard.
 
1976
Traveled to Russia at the invitation of the Union of Soviet Artists, where he lectured in several cities on contemporary American art. During his stay he made videotapes along the way.
 
1977
Began using color carbon.

Started a series of works based on Rembrandts Polish Rider of which Rainbow Rembrandt was purchased by the Hirshhorn Museum.

 
1978
Began the Golden Oldies series, turning his characteristic historical approach to his own works of the 50’s and 60’s. Part of the series was shown at the ACA Galleries.
 
1979
Completed Golden Oldies series. Golden Oldies closed out the past and now “…who knows,” said Rivers, “I’m concentrating on, as Edmund Wilson said, 'touching the superlative' in my own work.”
 
1980
There was a traveling retrospective exhibition: Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover Kunstverein, Munich Kunsthalle, Tubingen Stattliche Kunsthalle, Berlin.
 
1981
Begins living with artist Daria Deshuk.
 
1982
The Continuing Interest in Abstract Art series is shown at F.I.A.C. (Grand Palais, Paris), Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd., and Marlborough Gallery (New York).
 
1983
Thirty-year survey at Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York and Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, FL.
 
1984
The mural Philadelphia Now and Then inaugurated at J.C. Penney, Philadelphia.
1984-1985, History of Matzah (The Story of Jews) exhibited at the Jewish Museum, New York.
 
1985
River's son, Sambo Deshuk Rivers, was born.
 
1986
Completed a computer art project for the BBC, London, to be seen on U.S. television.

He prepared for an October one-man exhibition of new relief paintings at Marlborough Gallery, New York.

Rivers began exploring his interest in the motif of dancers for the Make Believe Ballroom series. This concept was based originally on Fred Astaire, Ginger Rodgers, and Rita Hayworth, and continues with the portrayals of other dancers, including modern dancers like Merce Cunningham.

Produced a commissioned cover for the New York Times magazine, Erasing the Past, using concentration camp imagery. Research for this led to an interest in expressing the thoughts and ideas about the Holocaust and the writings of Primo Levi, resulting in a set of large portraits of Levi.

 
1987
Early in the year traveled to the Dominican Republic in hope of “working long hours and quietly” on Umber Blues.

Reviews Ron Sukenik’s book "Down & In" for The New York Times.

Asked by the Philadelphia Historical Society to make a print celebrating the Bicentennial of the Constitution.

He contributes a special eight-page project to Art Forum (No. XXVI, No.3, November 1987) 100 Avant-Garde Plays by Kenneth Koch.

A concomitant interest in Duchamp and the modernist avant-garde leads to the catalogue’s cover design and poster for the Art at the Armory show based on Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase.

 
1988
Begins a series of large versions of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, with the title 75 Years Later.

Spoleto Festival U.S.A. exhibition at the Gibbes Art Gallery.

Italian television interviews Rivers regarding his painting of the Italian writer Primo Levi for its program "What’s Happening in America" and was broadcasted on Italian National television.

 
1989
Begins new series of relief’s depicting Webster Cigar boxes, seated figures, and Charlie Chaplin. Expresses a continued interest in modernist works placing Chaplin and other themes against the background of paintings by Leger.
 
1990
Traveling retrospective "Larry Rivers: Public and Private" organized by the Butler Institute of American Art and The American Federation of Arts. The exhibition toured six cities from 1990-1992.
 
1991
Continues a series of works based on works by Matisse and other early twentieth-century artists. A retrospective of prints and multiples made between 1957 and 1991 begins a nine-city tour to end in 1992.
 
1992
Creates works based on depictions of family and friends and objects in the studio.

Nassau County Museum of Art retrospective of paintings, drawings, and prints is scheduled through November 1992.

Harper Collins, New York, published Larry Rivers’ autobiography, "What did I do?"

He is also the subject of several scholarly monographs and videos, and a doctoral dissertation.

 
1993
Has several works included in the exhibition Copier/Créer de Turner á Picasso, 300 Oeuvres inspirées par les Maîtres du Louvre, organized by the Louvre in Paris.

Also had works included in "Hand-painted Pop: American Art in Transition 1956-62," which originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York. One of his three dimensional works was selected for the exhibition Slittamenti, a segment of the 1993 Venice Biennale.

A solo exhibition entitled Art and the Artist marked a thirty-year association with Marlborough Gallery in New York. The exhibition traveled to Marlborough in Madrid, Spain.

 
1994
A show at the Nassau County Museum of Art entitled "Art After Art" featured paintings by Larry Rivers.
 
1995
Was a central figure in the major exhibition entitled "Bop, Beat, and Beyond" at Australia’s Museum of New South Wales. This show explored the connections between visual artists, musicians and writers of the beat period. Also featured in the comprehensive exhibition "Beat Culture and the New America (1950-65)" at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
 
1996
Begins transitioning from art and artist themed works to fashion as a subject.
 
1997
The Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida mounted a retrospective of Rivers’ works from 1980-1997.

Marlborough Gallery in New York featured his solo exhibition, Recent Works, and Ulysses Gallery in Vienna, Austria featured his early works on paper.

 
1998
Focuses his efforts mainly between two themes, Art and the Artist works and Fashion. Begins drawings in anticipation of a work about The History of Hollywood.
 
1999
Interest in fashion as a subject culminates in his first "Fashion Show," a solo exhibition at Marlborough Gallery in New York.

From 1999 through 2000 he embarked on a project commissioned by Jeffrey Loria. The History of Hollywood is a montage painted across four 8’ x 10’ panels painted with Hollywood’s memorable moments, and 75 additional drawings.

 
2001
Marlborough presented the second "Fashion Show" which previewed, appropriately, at Lord & Taylor Department Store on fashionable Fifth Avenue in New York and moved on to Marlborough Gallery in Monte Carlo.
 
2002
A major retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

He continued working on fashion paintings up until three months before his death in August 2002.

Obituaries appeared in various newspapers and periodicals worldwide, with national coverage that included among others, Time Magazine and the front page of the New York Times, where they honored a formerly predicted front page coverage of his passing.

 
2005-2008
Marlborough Gallery exhibition "Paintings and Drawings 1951-2001." Selected works are included in the traveling exhibition "Jazz," originating in Rovereto, Italy, at the Museo de Arte Moderna e Contemporanea and traveling to Paris and Barcelona.

Guild Hall Museum exhibition "Larry Rivers: Major Early Works."

 
2009
"Larry Rivers 1950s/1960s" presented by Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.
 
2010
NYU acquires the Larry Rivers papers. Washington Crossing the Delaware is included in the exhibition "Abstract Expressionist New York" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
 
2011
O’Hara Nude with Boots is included in “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

The exhibition travels to the Brooklyn Museum.

Larry Rivers paintings, works on paper and ephemera are included in "Tibor de Nagy Gallery: Painters and Poets" on the occasion of the Gallery's 60th anniversary.

 
2012
"Larry Rivers: Later Works" is presented at Tibor de Nagy Gallery.
 
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