Accession Number


Larry Rivers

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
circa 1960-1962

Medium & Support
graphite on paper

16 5/8 in. x 13 7/8 in. ( 42.3 cm x 35.3 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Herbert Barrows

Label copy
Born in 1923 to Russian immigrant parents, Larry Rivers was raised in the Bronx. In the 1940s he began a successful career as a jazz saxophonist playing with numerous bands and studying music theory at the renowned Julliard Music School. Through artist friends Nell Blaine and Jane Freilicher, Rivers was encouraged to take up painting, and by the late 1940s he put aside his saxophone to study with the Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann. Though trained by an abstract master, Rivers soon developed his own gestural, figurative style. Having returned from a trip to Paris in the 1950s, Rivers was deeply influenced by great history paintings and his own works at that time often co-opted their familiar imagery. His return to the themes of history painting and use of figurative imagery represented a profound shift from the abstract sensibility of the first generation of the New York School to the more representational style of his peers. Saying of his work at this time, "I wanted to do something the art world would consider disgusting, dead and absurd. I was branded a rebel against the rebellious abstract expressionists, which made me a reactionary." Like his contemporaries Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, Rivers works of the 1960s focused on common, everyday images derived from American culture and mass media.
In Buick we see a fine example of the artist’s everyday imagery of the 1960s with sources in popular culture and commercial advertisements. Incorporating a highly gestural hand in which the graphite is actively applied, in some areas quite densely, Rivers presents the viewer with two similar yet not identical views of an automobile hood, windshield and grill. It is a work without a deeper emotional layer and requiring no interpretative work from the viewer— representing one of the differences between the first and second generations of the New York School.
Katie Weiss, Research Assistant, on the occasion of the exhibition The New York School: Abstract Expressionism and Beyond and Beyond, July 20, 2002 – January 19, 2003

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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American (North American)
fenders (vehicle components)
hoods (enclosing structures)
license plates

4 Related Resources

Art of interest to Judaic Studies
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Cars and Car Culture
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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