new-york

Larry Rivers

Marlborough Gallery | New York

Marlborough’s recent show made it appear that Larry Rivers has been progressively accommodating his art to the facile popular misreading of early ’60s Pop. Most of his new works are so hokey and meretricious as not even to be good clowning.

Rivers’ best paintings of the 1950s succeeded in establishing painting as special access to corporeity. When they dealt with sex, senescence, and physical vulnerability, paintings like The Accident and The Pool always linked these subjects with the universal condition of visibility. The seemingly obsessive character of some of Rivers’ interests didn’t rankle because painting was made a powerful means of mediation between physical and emotional states and between the artist’s stake in his subjects and the spectator’s. He seemed at times to be taking seriously the strangeness of the fact that paintings preserve the physical appearance of people who no

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