"ABOUT THE ZOO"
mixed media, 23 x 30 inches,
signed and dated lower right "Larry Rivers '85"
Irving Galleries, Palm Beach, Florida; Private Collection, Florida.
Note: This work is a mixed media collage composed of a lithograph
and silkscreen print "The Bronx Zoo", made by Larry Rivers and published
by the New York Graphic Society in 1983. He cut and
three-dimensionalized the wood, then extensively reworked and painted
over it to create aunique piece.
Special thanks to David Joel, Executive Director of the Larry Rivers
Foundation for his assistance in cataloging this lot.
Larry Rivers’ art eludes definition. He is considered a founding father of Pop Art but also an Abstract Expressionist artist—two artistic styles that seem in direct opposition of each other. Andy Warholsaid of Rivers, “Larry’s painting style was unique- it wasn’t Abstract Expressionism and it wasn’t Pop, it fell into the period in between. But his personality was very Pop.”
Not only was Rivers a diverse artist, he was extremely prolific in a career that started with his first solo exhibition at Jane Street Gallery in Greenwich Village in 1949. From there, he continued to show annually at Tibor de Nagy from 1952-1962 and in 1963 joined the Marlborough Gallery who would represent him until his death.
In the early 1940s Rivers was a professional Jazz saxophonist working in New York City and studying at the Julliard School of Music where he befriended Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. In 1945, Jack Feilicher, a fellow musician, introduced Rivers to Cubism through the paintings of George Braque. That year, Rivers started painting. He studied at Hans Hofmann’s School of painting and continued at NYU to earn a BA in art education.
In 1955, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (MoMA) acquired his seminal painting Washington Crossing the Delaware. In 1965, his first comprehensive retrospective toured five U.S.museums. By the 1980s, Rivers was a well-established artist, working internationally but with a NewYork City focus.
It was during the 1980s that he started creating three-dimensional relief paintings. Neither collage, nor assemblage, these works are composed of a shaped support that Rivers custom designs for each composition. In the case of, All About the Zoo, Rivers reinterpreted his 1983 print of the Bronx Zoo, but creating a shaped support, pasting cut-out sections of the lithograph to the board, and then painting over the entire work to create a unique composition.
David Joel, Executive Director of the Larry Rivers Foundation notes, “It wasn’t unusual for Larry totake an unnumbered print from an edition and then hand work over it to make a unique piece. Itappears to me that this is what was done with “All about the Zoo”…he really did do a lot of handwork over the print. He painted quite a bit over it and then he went further than he usually wouldwhen making a print into a unique work, he then three-dimentionalized it. So it’s a unique piece...”
The print of the Bronx Zoo is widely collected including an example at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Rivers’ works are collected in numerous public and private collections worldwide.