Red Grooms – An American Milestone in Multimedia Artistry & Pop Art

American multimedia (painting, sculpture, and printmaking) artist, Charles Rogers Grooms, also known as Red Grooms, was born on June 7, 1937, at Nashville, Tennessee. He studied at the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois and later at the Peabody College, Nashville. In 1956, Grooms moved to the New York City and enrolled at the New School for Social Research. A year later, while starting his career as a dishwasher in a restaurant, he also joined the Hans Hoffmann School of Fine Arts in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It was here that he interacted a lot with animators like Yvonne Andersen, with whom he later on completed a number of short films. Here, Dominic Falcone of Sun Gallery, Provincetown, nicknamed Grooms as “Red.”

Charles Rogers is best known for his contributions to spontaneous artistic events, also generally referred to as ‘Happenings’ and is also famous for his ‘Pop art’ constructions, which are mainly bright in color, displayed on varied mediums. Most of his works have generated a satirically amusing view of modern-day life and this can be seen in his film, “Fat Feet (1965).” Red Grooms’ work like “The Burning Building” was also highly appreciated. It was staged at his studio in New York between December 4 and 11, 1959. Other famous works of Red include “Play Called Fire” & “The Walking Man.”

Red Grooms also invented ‘Sculpto-Pictoramas,’ a type of installations devised from several media, especially sculpture and painting, to generate the attention of the viewers. The example of ‘Sculpto-Pictoramas’ can be seen in “The City of Chicago (1968)” & “Ruckus Manhattan (1975).” The artist created these works jointly with Mimi Gross, his wife. The couple also featured in Mike Kuchar’s “Secret of Wendel Samson (1966).” Several of Red’s works have a strong sense of history and can be classified as perceptive, which is clearly visible in “Nighthawks Revisited (1980),” “Philadelphia Cornucopia (1982),” & “Studio at Rue des Grands-Augustin’s (1990-96).” Grooms was also often criticized for some of his works like “Shoot-out (1983),” where he portrayed a cowboy and an American Indian shooting at each other and another where his sculptures were picked for his callousness towards Indian history.

In 1985, Grooms displayed 29 years of his works at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. It contained all the paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and huge “Sculpto-Pictoramas.” Other than the USA, Grooms’ works were shown in Europe and Japan. In 1990s, the artist returned to Nashville, Tennessee and created some 36 figures hailing from Nashville history, for the Tennessee Foxtrot Carousel. His printmaking ranges from woodblock prints, stencils, etchings, and lithographs. In 2003, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Design. At present, Red Grooms lives and works in the New York City, lower Manhattan with his daughter Saskia Grooms.

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