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Friday, July 9, 2010


What was Larry Rivers thinking, filming his adolescent daughters naked or topless describing their developing breasts? The films, shot over the course of several years (every six months for over five years), are part of an archive purchased by NYU. The daughters, who say the films were shot against their wills, want the films; NYU says no.

This is an entirely different situation from Sally Mann who has always maintained she photographed her children when they, themselves had already taken their clothes off, and stopped photographing them before they reached puberty. Even that rather sick puppy, Jock Sturgis (who I’ve always thought of as an edgier version of William Hamilton), skating along that thin line between art photography and child pornography is in a whole different ball game than this.

Rivers’s wife, Clarice, finally put a stop to it, but only after she’d bared her own breasts in the films. Rivers says he made the films despite “the raised eyebrows of society in general and specific friends and even my daughters—they kept sort of complaining. (Italics are mine.) Yuck.

These two now-grown women, one of whom blames the experience for her later bout with anorexia and subsequent therapy are alive and have voices. They have told us the circumstances, they were victimized by the very person who should have been protecting them and they should get the films back. If the Rivers's Foundation director were a woman instead of a man, I believe they would.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a sad situation--it's not unusual for the talents of an artist to be anything but the talents of a father; Larry Rivers was no father, and the daughters should get the photos back.