Los Angeles

Larry Rivers

Dwan Gallery

A small format show, arranged from fragments of earlier interests plus seven recent cut-out boxes dating from 1965, provides a skimming look at little touchdowns in Rivers’ running improvisation on the American art scene. The Daily Screw and The Sunday Screw, oil and collage works from 1963 open this presentation. Built up into the newspaper format with wide slices of photograph-induced paint, are two eye catching concerns of everyday and Sunday newspapering, sex and spies, the treatment of which in these two collages is, however, mostly verbal. Rivers’ short prose represents a kind of verbal telescoping which echoes the visual activity. In the Parts of the Body, French of 1964, the artist paints on a mounted relief a reproduction of one of his own well-known female nudes with accompanying anatomical description. This represents how open the question is as to how many “steps” away the Artist can take and still return to his original conception. In this case the condensing and diminution of the image has resulted in a firmer, more incisive paint feel. The pencil and collage Dutch Masters Drawing for a Banner, demonstrates the heightened interest in “diagrammatica,” real or mock plans for future or past projects. It doesn’t really matter which, in that the diagram has assumed an autonomy that can shift in or out of a relationship to a painted offspring, or a parent, with no loss of relevance.

The recent works in the show are six cut-outs mounted on box forms, and one painted object, a Webster cigar box constructed little larger than life. The mounted cut-outs are mostly variations on flowers, with the cut away portion of the flower mounted along with the flower in a Pop-Cubist demonstration of “becoming.” The flower pieces in this series are mostly very thin sledding. More challenging is the cigar box itself, “Webster and Cigars.” It is here that the insistent Rivers improvisation meets up with solid material, wood. The result, in this case, is that only the label can be “played.” Thus, all the effacements, visual and verbal maneuvers, etc., take place inside the label, while the object itself, with its long brown cylindrical contents, remains dormant and inactive under the visual fireworks taking place above. A show of “petit format” demands some range, otherwise the view of it, as is the case here, devolves to measurably few intimations of the artist’s major concerns.

––Irving S. Petrin