Mango-Mango (Gangster and Moll Dancing the Tango)

Mango-Mango (Gangster and Moll Dancing the Tango)
Red Grooms
June 2,1937
Artist Biography
Acquisition Number: 80.11
Medium: Screenprint in colors
Size: 40 x 29 in.
Date: 1973
Credit: Gift of Argosy Partners & Bond Street Partners

Born in Tennessee, Grooms moved to New York in 1956, earning the nickname "Red" for his red hair. It was in New York that Grooms found his muse, walking around the city with a sketchbook and depicting urban life. He experience the corrupt side of New York, stating "I lived for ten years, from 1965 to 1975, at the corner of Grand and Mulberry. The northwest corner, where there's an Italian deli. Saw a lot of action there. Once some mobster got shot right in front of our door. The police outlined the body in chalk. My daughter was five. She never forgot it." Grooms depicted the gangsters of New York in various works such as this one. "Moll" is a slang term for the female companions of mafia members, and other professional criminals. "It's pretty much the city that makes the language," Grooms explained. "That's what I deal with: the clichés." "Mango-Mango" was published by New York stockbroker, art patron, and socialite Kitty Meyer to help fund the rebuilding of towns and communities in Nicaragua devastated by an earthquake in 1972. Meyer held a personal interest in Nicaragua, as her family fled there on the eve of World War II and lived for fifteen years until moving to New York. Meyer initiated the visual arts project to raise funds for Nicaragua, finding five artists for the cause and raising $160,000 — about a million dollars today. Meyer and the artists asked people to purchase the works and encouraged them to then donate the work to museum and university collections throughout the United States.