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 happeninghappening,
an artistic event of a theatrical nature, but usually improvised spontaneously without the framework of a plot. The term originated with the creation and performance in 1959 of Allan Kaprow's "18 Happenings in 6 Parts.
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, e.g., The Burning Building (1959). He also worked in other theatrical forms but is best known for his pop artpop art,
movement that restored realism to avant-garde art; it first emerged in Great Britain at the end of the 1950s as a reaction against the seriousness of abstract expressionism.
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 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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Grooms, Red (b. Charles Roger Grooms)

(1937–  ) sculptor, painter, performance artist; born in Nashville, Tenn. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the New School for Social Research, N.Y., and the Hans Hofmann School, Mass., then settled in New York City (1957). He founded Ruckus Productions (1963), a multi-media environmental and performance company, and is known for both his lifesize installations and impromptu happenings and other theatrical events.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.