Red Grooms - Self-portait with Frame, 2004 - image via pafa.org

Red Grooms/ Charles Rogers Grooms

United States 1937

Pop Art

Red Grooms
Charles Rogers Grooms
Male
United States
1937

Red Grooms aka Charles Rogers Grooms is an American multimedia artist known for his lively and colorful pop-art pieces portraying busy urban life scenes. His unusual, endlessly amusing painted collage sculptures depict both fictional and observed scenes and they are characterized by Grooms’ strong talent for stylization and his sharp sense of humor. He created his most famous pieces using the complicated, painstaking technique of putting together various painted depictions into so-called sculpto-pictoramas, which are a unique combination of painting and sculpture. After he moved from Nashville to New York in the mid-50s, Grooms collaborated with other creative people belonging the Pop Art movement.

Red Grooms - Joseph's Bridge, 2004 - image via nashvillearts.com work chicago works american tennessee institute work chicago works american tennessee institute
Red Grooms – Joseph’s Bridge, 2004 – image via nashvillearts.com

Commentator on the Human Condition

Grooms is originally from Nashville, Tennessee and he was born during the time of Great Depression. He studied fine arts at the Art Institute of Chicago and Peabody College in Nashville. Grooms decided to move to New York City in 1956, where he enrolled in the New School for Social Research. Around the same time, he attended a summer session at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He got his nickname Red while living in Provincetown, where he worked as a dishwasher at a restaurant before he became a full-time artist. It is important to underline that Red Grooms belongs to the generation famous for the intelligent sense of humor and keen desire to comment on the human condition. Grooms is often compared to the Marx Brothers because of his impetuous, unstoppable energy and ability to be both solemnly serious and extremely witty, depending on the occasion. He was also compared to Marcel Duchamp, who is again a notably witty, tongue-in-cheek commentator of the human condition.

Red Grooms belongs to a generation of artists who were famous for their intelligent sense of humor and their keen desire to comment on the human condition

Red Grooms - Masters at the Met, 2002 - image via artsy.net museum gallery home museum gallery home
Red Grooms – Masters at the Met, 2002 – image via artsy.net

Interest in Performance, Painting, and Sculpture

One of the first projects Grooms participated in happened in the spring of 1958. Together with Yvonne Andersen and Lester Johnson, Grooms painted twelve-foot by twelve-foot panels, which were placed on telephone poles on a parking space close to the amusement park in Salisbury, MA. We can call these panels an old fashioned version of today’s billboards. but what is really important is that Grooms’ distinctive talent for visual arts already at that time won the considerable amount of public exposure. In addition to visual arts, Grooms was also fascinated with performance and acting, which dates back to his childhood days in Nashville. During the late 50 and early 60s in New York, he created Happenings, which were traveling events staged by a group of young performers, still outside of the established art world of New York City. These performances were a wild, chaotic blend of improvisation and studio practice. The best-known happening was The Burning Building, which was staged at Grooms’ studio in Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Grooms has always been a very prolific and versatile artist and today he’s considered one of the pioneers of site-specific sculpture and installation art. One of his first worldwide renown pieces was City of Chicago, from 1967 – a large, walk-through installation containing sculptures of celebrities such as Mayor Daley, Hugh Hefner, and Abraham Lincoln, with a burlesque background music. This installation is confirming Grooms’ amazing capability to create humorously bizarre compositions. His another famous sculpo-pictorama, from 1975, is called Ruckus Manhattan and it consists of a number of mixed-media installations which became Grooms’ signature works. Ruckus Manhattan features colorful three-dimensional constructions and cartoon-like characters, inspired by the most diverse inhabitants of New York City. Grooms’ talent for creating caricatures is more than evident in this series. He literally transformed the Grand Central Terminal into a hilarious 3d caricature of Big Apple and its people. In addition to Grand Central, this installation features other typical NYC locations such as Central Park and the Appolo Theater as well as figures of tourists, shoppers, taxi drivers, gamblers and prostitutes.

Ruckus Manhattan features colorful three-dimensional constructions and cartoon-like characters, inspired by the most diverse inhabitants of New York City

Red Grooms - Ruckus Taxi, 1982 - image via a.1stdibscdn.com
Red Grooms – Ruckus Taxi, 1982 – image via a.1stdibscdn.com

Prints and Lithographs

Besides his famous paintings, sculptures and installations, Grooms is also renown for his dedication to printmaking. He is quite creative and experiments with non-traditional printmaking techniques – he creates woodblock prints, uses spray-painted stencils and constructs elaborate three-dimensional lithographs. After he bought a hot-glue gun in 1973, he started creating stunning pieces of paper sculpture. Later on, in 1979, Grooms spent some time at the University of New Mexico, where he first learned to work even in bronze.

After Grooms bought a hot-glue gun in 1973, he started creating stunning pieces of paper sculpture

Red Grooms - Fats Domino, 1984 - image via liveauctioneers.com museum gallery museum gallery museum museum museum
Red Grooms – Fats Domino, 1984 – image via liveauctioneers.com

Homage to New York City

Grooms talent to reveal the city’s dark side and frenzy as well as its sparkling allure turned Manhattan into an exciting wonderland. His warm-hearted parody and satirical approach pay homage to Big Apple in a unique way and his work is highly appreciated and loved for its comic-like character. Grooms’ pieces have been shown across the United States, Europe, and Japan and they are included in the permanent collections of roughly 40 museums Grooms was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for his innovative and humorous work that won the hearts of his audience and art critiques.

The artist is represented by Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art and Puccio Fine Art.

Red Grooms lives and works in New York City.

Featured image: Red Grooms – Self-portrait with Frame, 2004 – image via pafa.org
All images used for illustrative purpose only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2013 Larger Than LifeYale University Art Gallery, New Haven, ConnecticutSolo
2013Red Grooms' New York CityChildren's Museum of Manhattan, New YorkSolo
2013What's the RuckusBrattleboro Museum & Art Center, Brattleboro, VermontSolo
2012Torn from the PagesMarlborough Gallery, New YorkSolo
2011Red GroomsMarlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
2007Red Grooms: Recent PaintingsMarlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
2007Summer ExhibitionMarlborough Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2007Wit & WhimsyMarlborough Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2006SculptureMarlborough Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2005Landscape, CityscapeMarlborough Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2005Nassau Red! Red Grooms: Ruckus in RoslynNassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, USAGroup
2004Red Grooms: New Works in WoodMarlborough Gallery, New York, USA Solo
2003La Fete, Le BellevueMuseo Valenciano de la Ilustración y la Modernidad, Valencia, SpainGroup
2002Red Grooms: Recent WorksMarlborough Gallery, New York, USA Solo
2001Self-Made MenDC Moore Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2000Deja vu: Reworking the PastKatonah Museum of Art, Katonah, USAGroup
1999Red Grooms: New WorksMarlborough Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1998Red Grooms and the Heroism of Modern LifePalmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University, State College, USASolo
1998Coming off the WallSusquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, USAGroup
1997Traveling with Red GroomsMarlborough Gallery, New York, USA Solo
1996Red Grooms: A Personal Art HistoryNew Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, USASolo
1995Red Grooms: Sculpture and Works on Paper 1980-1994Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh, USASolo
1995Red Grooms's Dame of the Narrows and the Greater New York HarborBrooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, USASolo
1995FilmmuseumFilmmuseum, Potsdam, GermanyGroup
1994Red GroomsNagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1994Target: Red GroomsFredrick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, Malibu, USAGroup
1993Have Brush Will Travel: Red Grooms' Watercolor WorldMarlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
1993Red GroomsArt Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, USASolo
1993Red Grooms at Grand CentralGrand Central Terminal, New York, USASolo
1993Red Grooms' Ruckus RodeoRockwell Museum, Corning, USASolo
1992Red GroomsMarlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
1992Red GroomsKathryn Ellman Gallery, Aspen, USASolo
1992Red Grooms: Dame of the NarrowsBrooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, USASolo
1992Ruckus RodeoArvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Arvada, USAGroup
1992The Burning Building (revival) and Hot WaterCabaret Voltaire, New York, USAGroup
1991Red Grooms: The Graphic WorkFine Arts Center, Nashville, USASolo
1990Red Grooms: Oeuvres RécentesMarlborough Gallery New York, USASolo
1990Red Grooms: Tourist Traps and Other PlacesMarlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
1989Traveling with Red Grooms: Watercolors 1987-89Marlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
1987Red GroomsCarpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, Cambridge, USASolo
1987Red Grooms: RetrospectiveWhitney Museum of American Art, New York, USASolo
1987Recent Paintings, Sculpture and DrawingsMarlborough Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1986Homage to Red GroomsCumberland Gallery, Nashville, USASolo
1986Red GroomsPennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, USASolo
1986Rembrandt Takes a WalkMarlborough Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1985Red Grooms!Sette Publishing Co., Tempe, USASolo
1985Red Grooms: The AlleyMarlborough Fine Art, London, EnglandSolo
1984Red Grooms: Recent WorkMarlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
1983Images of Modern Times by Red GroomsHunter Museum, Chattanooga, USASolo
1983Graphics from the 80sUnicorn Gallery, Aspen, USAGroup
1983Maquettes, Monotypes and GraphicsAnderson Ranch, Aspen, USAGroup
1983Ruckus RodeoNorth Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, USAGroup
1982Red GroomsInstitute of Contemporary Art at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USASolo
1982Red GroomsNew Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, USASolo
1981Red GroomsMontgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, USASolo
1981Red GroomsMarlborough Gallery, New York, USASolo
1981Ruckus RodeoAspen Center for the Visual Arts, Aspen, USAGroup
1980Red Grooms: Works from the 60sHatton Art Gallery at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, USASolo
1979The BookstoreHudson River Museum, Yonkers, USAGroup
1978Discount StoreMartin Wiley Gallery, Nashville, USAGroup
1977Red GroomsGalerie Roger d'Amecourt, Paris, FranceSolo
1976Ruckus ManhattanMarlborough Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1975Works on PaperBrooke Alexander Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1975Works on PaperBrooke Alexander Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1972Red GroomsAllan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, USASolo
1972Red GroomsAllan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, USASolo
1971Red GroomsJohn Bernard Myers Gallery, New York, USASolo
1971Red GroomsJohn Bernard Myers Gallery, New York, USASolo
1970Red GroomsTibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, USASolo
1970Red GroomsTibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, USASolo