Best known as a sculptor for his fantastic walk through environments, Grooms is also a prolific painter, printmaker, pioneering performance artist and film maker. Developer of the sculpto-pictorama, his 1993 Grand Central Terminal Show 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 (replete 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 contemporary and classic artists, ranging from Toulouse-Lautrec to Francis Bacon. Hollywood greats, historical figures, even Chuck Berry have been immortalized in the exuberant Grooms style. Intertwining sculpture with painting, his work transcends both traditional portraiture and caricature.
Grooms attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the New School for Social Research, and the Hans Hofmann School on Cape Cod. During the 1950s and 1960s Grooms participated in happenings with fellow New York artists Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, and Jim Dine. Their nonverbal, theatrical presentations often required constructed sets; Grooms' interest in both performance and setting has continued in his art.
Characterized by his distinctive stylization and humorous portraits of people, Grooms’s works are constructed from illustration board and a hot glue gun, pieced together into a believable physical space. “In the New York works I’ve done I have tried to make it a kind of portraiture thing where I was really trying to get the texture of what I thought I saw, particularly in the neurosis of the population, and present it in context with the props—the mailboxes, fireplugs, any texture of the city,” he has explained.
Red Grooms’ work is exhibited widely in the United States, Europe and Japan. He is represented in the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, The Metropolitan Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum, The Denver Art Museum, The Fort Worth Art Museum, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Caracas, Venezuela, and numerous others.
A catalogue raisonné of Grooms prints “Red Grooms: The Graphic Work” has been published by Harry Abrams. A retrospective exhibition of his prints traveled to museums across the US between 2001 and 2006.