Rainer Gross was born and educated in Cologne, Germany. He came to the United States in 1973. At tnat time he worked with Howard Kanovitz and later with Larry Rivers He has exhibited with German galleries and last season at the Tower. His work is represented in numerous private collections. Mr. Gross' excellent draftsmanship and subtle color sense are evident in his acrylics on paper. His paintings and drawings interpret Americana charged witn allegorical and classical allusions. A still life of lilies and carnations is paired with a background of Roman mosaic depicting dancing figures. "TV. II Baroque", a six by nine foot mixed media on canvas, shows Rubens' inspired images pouring forth from the screen of a Sony television. Mr. Gross' imagery and style maintains a foothold in pre-Renaissance painting traditions and grasps the candor and gloved social commentary of Pop art and Photo-Realism He describes his direction best as ".... personal improvisations with themes in art history. I consider myself a student of paintings. I see no conceit in quoting from the past."
The copying of re-rendering ot old masters has a long and venerable history. The Romans copied the Greeks, the Renaissance masters copied the Romans and the academicians ot the 19th century copies the Renaissance masters. More recently, such stellar figures as Van Gogh, Cezanne and Picasso were "borrowers" who in turn became "lenders" to countless modernists.
Rainer Gross is an artist who subscribes to the theory that there is much to be gained from the study of art history and the adaptation of the styles of other eras. He calls his approach "personal improvisations with themes in art history." Although his attitude is far from universal, it was once the mainstay of art education and the foundation on which many an original talent built a personal esthetic.
Last years "Art about Art" exhibition at the Wnitney Museum reminded us that the art of the past can still provide valid models, even in an age when the unique and objective statement has been valued as never before. A prominent figure in that show as Larry Rivers, perhaps the most consistent renowned "borrower" of his generation, who has spent the last 30 years quoting everybody from Rembrandt to Hiroshige.
As an assistant to Mr. Rivers for four years, Mr. Gross was evidently in a sympathetic environment, although he states that this interest in art history predates his association with Mr. Rivers.
Gross is interested in the styles of art at various periods in history. He likes to take off from the art of the past, to use it as a point of departure.