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Red Grooms by Arthur Danto

Red Grooms

by Arthur Danto

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What a treasure! Thank you, Rizzoli New York for this marvelous coffee-table book with hundreds of large color plates of the creations of American multimedia artist Red Grooms (Born 1937), without question an artist possessing one of the most spectacular, outlandish, over-the-top visual imaginations of all time. Also includes are three essays - from author/painter Timothy Human, art critic Marco Livningstone and philosopher of art Arthur C. Danto. The essay by Danto is nothing short of brilliant and it this essay The World as Ruckus – Red Grooms and the Spirit of Comedy I quote below along with adding my own modest comments.

“The term ruckus in any case fits the style – the way Grooms applies and uses cartoony exaggerations. In a way, his characteristic works are three-dimensional cartoons, and, whatever its motivation, the ruckus is intended as a form of comedy, by contrast with the typical piece of installation art, which in general takes itself pretty seriously.” ----------- Some years back I had the good fortune to see a Red Grooms exhibit - many where the times I smiled; many where the times I laughed. A gallery should put up a sign at the entrance to a Red Grooms exhibit: SOURPUSSES KEEP OUT.

“I would dearly love to see Grooms make a piece based on Plato’s Symposium, showing Alcibiades staggering in with the help of a flute-girl, ivy twisted in his golden hair.” --------- So would I, Arthur! Anytime you encounter an event or activity where the participants are taking themselves and others much too seriously, imagine the whole thing rendered as a Red Grooms.

“A lot of Groom’s work is about art; he has an immense and an affectionate knowledge of art history, and he likes to use his art to make statements about its history and his own relationship to it. Often these meta-artistic works are extremely illuminating about the work they take as their subject.” ---------- Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, Piet Mondrian. I'm especially fond of the sculpture where Mondrian is enclosed in a three-dimensional version of his painting.

“Grooms’s art has the form it has because of the response it is intended to have, with laughter as the outward manifestation of the change of inner state.” ----------- Once you make a connection with a Red Grooms creation, it will stick with you for years.

“Grooms in some way makes his figures look ridiculous, even laughable, but he does not give himself an air of superiority in doing so because he makes his own work look proportionately ludicrous or laughable. ---------- There's nothing condescending about the artist's humor. Red Grooms puts his heart right out there along with his imagination and lives, via his art, with the men and women he creates.

“When the elevator doors of the Whitney Museum opened on Groom’s retrospective exhibition in 1987, I felt such an inrush of pleasure that I could not help but think – after all, mine, as you can tell, is in large measure the world of the professional philosopher – of Thomas Hobbes’s piquant definition of laughter in The Leviathan: laughter is “sudden glory.” For in a way that is what I felt: a flash of aesthetic glory.” ---------- Bulls-eye, Arthur! My experience exactly. And there's no aesthetic experience like one of aesthetic glory. If you spend a good hunk of time with Red Grooms, you will feel ten years younger. Guaranteed!

“In order for comedy to do its therapeutic work, it has to be accessible. The audience has to recognize what the work is about, and recognize itself in the work, as if in a mirror. The truth cannot be hidden, or be obscure.” ----------- There's no question, like the stories and art in the books of Dr. Seuss, the art of Red Grooms can be instantly understood.

‘His wonderful comic style was not intended at any point to degrade or ridicule its subjects but to present them with warmth by removing what might have been taken as fearful. The subway can be seen as a great iron dragon that worms through the dark underground beneath the city. Grooms shows it instead as comical and ingratiating, noting to be afraid of but as embodying, to use again Hegel’s description, “a fundamentally happy craziness, folly, and idiosyncrasy in general.”” ---------- Red Grooms's subway sculpture allows the viewer to get on the subway and walk through. Yes, that's right - life-size and life-like. What a blast and a half. ( )
  GlennRussell | Mar 28, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0847825779, Hardcover)

Best known for his extravagant life-sized artworks of stores, subways, and city scenes, Red Grooms populates these environments with offbeat, spirited, easily identifiable characters who strike a humorous chord. Intertwining sculpture with painting, his work transcends both traditional portraiture and caricature.

This is the first major book on Red Grooms's work published since 1984 and includes many drawings, personal photographs, and prints that have never been seen or published. Many of his famed sculpto-pictoramas appear in full color and some in gatefolds, such as Moby Dick Meets the NYPL, Tennessee Carousel, and The Marathon.

Grooms's 1995 Grand Central Terminal is still remembered by thousands as a peak artistic experience. Other environments include an agricultural building for the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa, the beloved Ruckus Manhattan (complete with subway car and Brooklyn Bridge), and a Ruckus Rodeo commissioned by the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art. Mixed-media pieces highlight portraits of classic and contemporary artists, from Toulouse-Lautrec to Francis Bacon. Hollywood greats, historical figures, even Chuck Berry, have been immortalized in the exuberant Grooms style.

Arthur Danto writes on Red Grooms and the spirit of comedy; Marco Livingstone's introduction contextualizes Red Grooms's work in the art of his time and discusses his relationship to Pop, Happenings, environmental art, and developments in painting; a recent interview with Red Grooms by Timothy Hyman completes the text.

Grooms's work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and around the world. The artist lives in New York City and Nashville, Tennessee.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

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"Red Grooms is the first book to cover Grooms' fifty-year career to the present. This volume includes many of his best-known and extravagant life-sized environments of stores, subways, city scenes, and a rodeo, as well as new work and personal photographs that have never before been seen. Many of his three-dimensional sculpto-pictoramas appear in full-color and can be viewed up-close for the first time, such as Moby Dick Meets the New York Public Library, Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel, and The Marathon. The book also showcases his drawings and prints."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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