Painter, draftsman and printmaker, Larry Rivers was born in the Bronx, New York (as Larry Grossberg) in 1923. He began his career in 1940 as a jazz saxophonist and changed his name to Larry Rivers. He was declared medically unfit for military service in 1943 and for the next two years he worked as a saxophonist in various jazz bands in the New York area. From 1947 to 1948 Rivers studied at the Hans Hoffman School of Fine Arts and in 1948 he studied under William Baziotes at New York University. He is known for his abstract style and is often referred to as a forerunner of the Pop Art movement.
Rivers had his first one-man exhibition at the Jane Street Gallery in New York and in 1952 he designed the stage set for Frank O’Hara’s play “Try, Try!”. He completed “Washington Crossing the Delaware” in 1953 and in 1954 he had his first exhibition of sculptures at the Stable Gallery in New York. In 1956 he was included, with ten other American artists, in the IV Bienal Do Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo, Brazil. He spent some time in Paris in 1958, playing in various jazz bands.
During the early 1960s, Rivers collaborated with Universal Limited Art Editions to produce a color lithograph titled “Last Civil War Veteran”, published in 1961. This print was one of many that he would produce. Rivers was married in 1961, to Clarice Price, an art and music teacher of Welsh extraction. He had his first comprehensive retrospective in five major American museums in 1965. He taught at the University of California in Santa Barbara in 1972 and during the following year, he had exhibitions in Brussels and New York. He was given his first European retrospective in Hanover, Munich and Berlin in 1980-1981.