Red Grooms and the Heroism of Modern Life
By (author) Joyce Henri Robinson
Publication date:15 May 2002
Length of book:20 pages
Publisherthe Palmer Museum of Art
Red Grooms is a cross between Marcel Duchamp and P. T. Barnum. Working in a brash, freewheeling style, Grooms has explored the raucous spectacle of life around him since his career began in the 1950s. This catalogue, which accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Palmer Museum of Art, brings together forty of his works to demonstrate that even his most whimsical creations have serious implications.
Many of the mixed-media constructions in Red Grooms and the Heroism of Modern Life reflect upon America's love affair with sports, business, and celebrity. The mixture of parody and homage in Grooms's portraits of such stars as Pablo Picasso and Fats Domino charges all his depictions of American popular culture, from bulky football players and haggard shoppers to a brightly colored Ferris wheel.
In her essay for this catalogue, Joyce Henri Robinson contends that Grooms should be should be considered a contemporary counterpart to Charles Baudelaire's Parisian flaneur. Much like this famed character, she observes, Grooms approaches the world around him as a spectacle filled with novel forms of heroism. In this regard, the key work in the catalogue is an installation centered upon a full-scale version of a New York City bus. Grooms's Bus tempers revelation of the gritty realities of urban life with humor and flashes of poetry.