New York

Larry Rivers

Tibor De Nagy

Larry Rivers has always been hard for art historians to place—being, on the one hand, a “painterly realist,” as Jonathan Fineberg calls him, and, on the other, a proto-Pop artist, for instance in his use of commercial imagery in the “French Money” and “Camel Cigarette” series (both begun in 1959). But this exhibition of twenty-eight choice works from the 1950s and ’60s presented Rivers instead as a “poet painter”—a reading of him most tellingly conveyed in the exuberant bouquet in Flower Poem, 1953.

Two of the other paintings in the show are rather notorious: The seated nude depicted in Augusta and the poet Frank O’Hara in O’Hara Nude with Boots, both 1954, were both Rivers’s lovers—or rather Augusta had been his wife and O’Hara his lover (the former is presented with classical dignity, while the grandly provocative depiction of the latter appears centered on the poet’s penis). The two

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