The Memphis-area Vanderbilt Alumni Club has invited Vivien Fryd, professor of history of art, to lecture on the art of artist Red Grooms, currently on view at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The event is scheduled for Saturday morning, January 7, including a guided tour of the exhibition.
Grooms’s treatment of New York City and Tennessee provides the focus for Red Grooms: Traveling Correspondent. The distinct bodies of work reflect time spent in these radically different environments, specifically those that most define him as a person and an artist.
Born in Nashville during the Great Depression Grooms studied art in Chicago, New York and at Peabody College. During his time in Tennessee, he encountered the southern storytelling and literary traditions as well as such spectacles as state fairs and the Grand Ole Opry. These experiences were manifest beginning in the late 1950s in his happenings, and from the 1960s on in his films, installations, paintings, prints, and sculpture.
His studies with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown and subsequent immersion in the New York art scene blended with his southern background to produce a vibrant art that celebrates bustling city life. The city provided his subjects: people riding buses and subways, stores, street scenes, parades, and the urban landscape. Although the Tennessee works are quieter and more bucolic, they too teem with telling details—interesting characters, hand-painted signs, and animals.
Like a correspondent, he makes note of people and situations, capturing the salient details that bring a scene to life. The exhibition includes approximately 50 examples of Grooms’s signature three-dimensional paintings, sculptures, installations, prints, and films, spanning 1961 to 2015, thereby providing an excellent overview of his artistic production.
*Image: Red Grooms (American, b. 1937), Tennessee S Curve, 2001. Enamel on epoxy on Styrofoam. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase, Morrie A. Moss Acquisition Fund 2001.10.
© Red Grooms / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York