|Can you hear the music? The gentleman’s foot seems to be tapping as he holds his partner. Is this their first dance or is it maybe their last for the evening?
The orange shapes seem to dance across the page…
Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1937 Charles Rogers Grooms has become known as Red Grooms. For Grooms, learning to be an artist did not take place in art schools. He didn’t stay long at the Art Institute in Chicago or the Han Hofmann School in New York City. The real teacher of Grooms was art history. In his work you can see that Grooms knows his art history past and present. He has created a pictorial tribute to the images and styles of Dali, Goya, Hopper, Matisse, Picasso, Rembrandt, Warhol, Whistler, to name a few of the images in Carter Ratcliff’s 1984 biography. In interviews he has also paid his respect to the watercolors of Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, John Marin, and Charles Burchfield, as well as to the art of the Ashcan School.
Grooms early on rejected the intricacies of abstract expression and later on Pop Art because for him it didn’t have the right flavor he wanted to portray in his work. “My problem with Pop paintings”, Grooms recalls in an article by Kazuo Yamawaki, “was the way the subject matter was used. I liked Pop imagery, but I liked it to have a warmness to it”.
In the 1950s and early 60s, Grooms, like Jim Dine and Claes Oldenburg, was active as a creator of one of the “Happenings” in New York City. The patched-together quality of his modern melodrama “Burning Building” (1959) featuring Grooms and his friends was an outgrowth of his childhood’s fascination with the circus. As in his art he made the character’s seem an enlargement and continuation of a child’s backyard extravaganza.
Groom’s studio is filled with a dancing, eating, celebrating crowd. His work almost always reflects this attitude of simple fun. His colorful, hectic characters whether it is the reconstruction of a store, the island of Manhattan or one of his many paintings or prints are clearly meant for the amusement of both the artist and viewer.