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Barbara Rose on Larry Rivers

ONE OF THE REASONS I came to New York before I was old enough to go anywhere was to meet artists like Larry Rivers. Larry was already famous—or infamous—for indulging in activities that white-bread America in the ’50s believed was a one-way ticket to hell. Everything about him was offbeat and funky. He was vain enough to lie about his age. He was either seventy-six or seventy-eight when he died this summer of liver cancer in Southampton, Long Island, where he hobnobbed with the rich and famous while still living more or less the life of a hobo. But this was typical of Larry’s endless contradictions, both as a person and as an artist.

Larry was a Jewish mother’s nightmare. I think it was my college classmate and his teenage girlfriend, the gorgeous Maxine Groffsky, who introduced me to the hostile, affectionate, generous, stingy, gregarious, insecure, serious, superficial, all-American mutt

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