Larry Rivers is a quintessential New Yorker. Born in the Bronx in 1923, Rivers initially pursued a career as a jazz saxophonist, playing in New York City establishments until 1945 when he began painting. He attended New York University from 1948 to 1951, studying under William Baziotes. At this time Rivers met Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists whose active style of painting would prove to be River's first major influence. While River's oeuvre can be considered abstract for the most part, he also interspersed figurative works throughout his career. Many such works feature playing cards, French currency, family members and the artist himself.
Few artists of the twentieth century rival River's versatility and desire to experiment, as evidenced by his ability to work in different genres and with a diverse range of media. In the early 1960’s Rivers worked with Universal Limited Art Editions to produce a color lithograph titled Last Civil War Veteran, published in 1961, and in 1963 he joined Marlborough Gallery. His irreverent and often humorous handling of politics, history, and sex in his later works created much controversy and affirmed his position as innovator and artistic pioneer.
Rivers is represented by many museums around the world, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; The Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California. In New York he is represented in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Jewish Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. In Washington, D.C. he is represented at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, and The National Gallery of Art. He is also represented by the Tate Gallery, London, England; the Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Caracas, Venezeula.