Grooms, Red

Grooms, Red (Charles Grooms), 1937–, American artist, b. Nashville, Tenn; studied Art Inst. of Chicago, Peabody College, New School for Social Research, Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. He moved to New York City in 1957. Beginning in the 1950s, Grooms was one of the earliest practitioners of the happening, e.g., The Burning Building (1959). He also worked in other theatrical forms but is best known for his pop art installations made largely during the 1970s and 80s, constructions made from brightly painted wood, metal, fabric, and other media in a wide variety of sizes and scales. Best known are those that highlight the raucous hurly-burly of New York City, such as his famous environment titled Ruckus Manhattan (1975), considered by many his signature piece, in painted and sculpted papier-mâché, vinyl, and fiberglass. He has dubbed his walk-in environments “sculpto-pictoramas.” Grooms's style is cheerfully satirical and cartoonlike, as in his films The Big Sneeze (1962) and Fat Feet (1965), and his exuberant works swarm with boisterous life. He has also made various excursions into the realm of art history, e.g., Studio at Rue des Grands-Augustins (1990–96), a large painting that depicts Picasso working on his masterpiece Guernica in a world-invaded studio. Grooms has continued to create paintings and constructions into his 80s.

See R. Grooms et al., Red Grooms: A Retrospective, 1956–1984 (1985) and R. Grooms et al., Red Grooms: Traveling Correspondent (2016); critical biography by C. Ratcliff (1985); study by M. Livingstone and A. Danto (2004).

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