|Larry Rivers is dead.
The Times obit reflects his mixed reputation. He was gifted and inventive, but produced a lot of truly awful work. Even his good stuff was done better by Rauschenberg. Still, he played his role to the hilt, and managed to be both highbrow and vulgar at the same time, which remains a popular ambition in the art world. I was never attracted to his work, but he was the biggest name on the Parsons faculty when I went there. My friend Steve DiBenedetto did excellent Rivers knock-offs, even to the point of carrying around stencils as part of his life drawing kit. Larry didn't prove to be much of a teacher though, making no more than an occasional appearance, breezing through the senior class studios. My favorite memory is of the one time he was made available to our third year class, but got upstaged by the pope. JP2 was making his first visit to NY, and the whole class was leaning out of the windows to catch a glimpse of the pope-mobile going down 5th Avenue, ignoring Larry, who pouted and leafed through a book, refusing to pay any attention to the pater. Maybe it was principled anti-clerical bohemianism, but I think he was just jealous of a bigger celebrity.
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