Red Grooms was born Charles Rogers Grooms in 1937 in Nashville, Tennessee. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Hans Hofmann School on Cape Cod before moving to New York in 1956. In New York, Grooms participated in a number of happenings, a growing art movement in the 1950s and 1960s which involved improvisational and multi-disciplinary performance art that took artmaking outside of the gallery or museum space and challenged the traditional categorization of “art.” These happenings often involved a constructed set or situation that participants then reacted to, and Grooms’ work continues to take up issues of performance and setting today. While in New York, Grooms also got to know fellow New York artists Alex Katz, Jim Dine, and Claes Oldenburg, who he began exhibiting his pop art paintings and collages with.
Today, Grooms is best known for his painted-collage sculptures which incorporate strange elements of Americana. Grooms was one of the first artists to bring pop art into large scale environmental sculptures, these “sculpto-pictoramas” both celebrate and criticize icons of American culture. In Ruckus Manhattan (1975), for example, Grooms created an over 10,000 square foot out-of-scale model of New York City which spoke to the precariousness of urban life and helped established Grooms as a pioneer of site-specific sculpture and installation art.
Recent solo exhibitions of Grooms’ work include Handiwork, 1955 - 2018, Marlborough Contemporary, New York, New York, United States (2018); Red Grooms: New York On My Mind, Marlborough Gallery, New York, United States. (2017); Red Grooms: Traveling Correspondent, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee, United States. (2016); Red Grooms: Larger Than Life, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, United States. (2013); Nassau Red! Red Grooms: Ruckus in Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York, United States. (2005). Grooms’ work is also represented in private collections worldwide including the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Fort Worth Museum of Contemporary Art. Fort Worth; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Nagoya City Museum, Nagoya, Japan.