Red Grooms (born Charles Rogers Grooms on June 7, 1937) is an American multimedia artist best known for his colorful pop-art constructions depicting frenetic scenes of modern urban life.
Grooms was born in Nashville, Tennessee during the middle of the Great Depression. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and then at Peabody College in Nashville. Grooms moved to New York City in 1956 to study at the New School for Social Research. In 1957, Grooms attended a summer session at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in Provincetown, Massachusetts. There he met experimental animation pioneer Yvonne Andersen, with whom he collaborated on several short films.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Grooms made a number of "Happenings". The best known of these was "The Burning Building" which he staged in his studio (dubbed "The Delancey Street Museum" for the occasion) at 148 Delancey Street in New York's Lower East Side between December 4 and 11, 1959. It was shortly thereafter that Grooms invented "sculpto-pictoramas", the mixed-media installations that would become his signature craft. These vibrant three-dimensional constructions melded painting and sculpture to create immersive works of art that invited interaction from the viewer. These pieces were often populated with colorful, cartoon-like characters from many different walks of life. His two most notable installations, The City of Chicago (1967), and Ruckus Manhattan (1975) were enormously popular with the public. These works were done in collaboration with his wife at the time, and artist in her own right, Mimi Gross. Along with Gross, he starred in Mike Kuchar's Secret of Wendel Samson (1966), which tells the story of a closet gay artist torn between two relationships. In the 1990s Grooms returned to his Tennessee roots, creating likenesses of 36 figures from Nashville history for the Tennessee Foxtrot Carousel (1998).
Besides painting and sculpture, Grooms is also known for his prolific printmaking. He has experimented with numerous techniques, creating woodblock prints, spray-painted stencils, soft-ground etchings, and elaborate three-dimensional lithograph constructions.
Grooms' work has been exhibited in galleries across the United States, Europe, and Japan. His art is included in the collections of thirty-nine museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art in Nashville, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
In 2003, Grooms was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Design. Grooms currently lives and works in New York City. He has one daughter, Saskia Grooms.