Skip to main content

Astonishing Five-Page, Fully Illustrated “Red” Grooms ALS

At Auction
Item: 23196
Add to Wishlist

GROOMS, “RED” (CHARLES ROGERS GROOMS). (b. 1937). American artist known for his colorful pop-art, painted-collage sculptures. ALS. (“Red”). 5pp. 4to. Yugoslavia, August 2, 1968. To Tom. A fabulously colorful illustrated letter with several self-portraits describing his and his wife Mimi’s (artist MIMI GROSS, b. 1940 who has also signed “Mimi,” adding a small sketch) trip through southern Europe. Grooms’ idiosyncratic punctuation and (perhaps dyslexic) spelling has not been corrected.

“Page 1

August 2 Year of our Lord 1968 

Wow wie much guilt but also lots of thinking of you. Dear Tom, Well here we are in good ole Jugoslavia.

The coast is rocks, rocks and more rocks. Sea urchins & tar the bane of the coast. We passed the border from Itay about July 1 and headed all the way down the coast. Ed & Sarah Flood who helped me in Chicago went with us in our brand new Fiat 600 License Plate ROMA. Everyone thinks we’re Italians. Great walled towns and Islands and real clear water and really hot. That’s Peter Russell our Serbian Croatian expert. We’ve been traveling together for 2 weeks. Monastary hunting in Serbia. Do you know about them? I didn’t but we kept seeing these fat books kramed  with fresco beauties. (This was on the Dalmation Coast were theres lots of stone carving but not so much fresco work. Soo to make a (over)

Page 2

short story long, we pressed forward into deepest Hercegovina & Bosna on the way we saw a big fat book on Bogomil* Tombs sculpture.. Another majgor body of European art I’d never heard of. They’re massive sacophagus’s & stone slabs set up in the 13th to 15th cent. in completely isolated places.

*The legend has it that if you try to push a Bogomil around you get zapped by lightening. [Drawing includes five figures, including a self-portrait of Grooms with Mimi and other figures are identified as “guide” and “Atlas Tour.”]

As we were driving around we saw a tomb stone under a farmers house. [Drawing of a house with a terracotta roof underneath which is a tombstone. Mimi is leaning out of a yellow car saying:] ‘Hey there’s a Bogomil under your house’ [A woman next to the house replies:] ‘Not so loud I don’t want to be zapped by lightening’

Page III

We stayed a week in Sarajevo.* There are over a hundred mosques. And in one an ole guy goes up about 6 times a day and calls prayer. He can hold a note 3 mins. Part of the city was built by the Turks and part by the Austrians. In the Turkish part there’s lot of shops where they make copper pots [Illustration shows a man making a copper pot with the caption “bang bang” and Mimi and Grooms, who has stepped into a pot, crying out:] ‘Hey mister could you please get these pots out of the street’ Also real nice big market where all the country folk bring vegetables and wool and chickens and rugs. In the Austrian part there are big puffy buildings Everythings dirty colored and the men wear rumpled suits and there are about 3 cars. [Illustration shows Grooms and Mimi woven into the pattern of a rug saying:] ‘Mimi where are you?’ / ‘I’m right here Ruggy’  

The mosulem men & women wear bloomer pants. The women have briads  down to the ass. The men big mustaches.

Authors Note *Where the First World War started when the Arch Duke and Duchess got plugged. [Illustration of the Archduke and his wife shot in the rear of an open car as a figure looks on declaring:] Ah history — Assasins Foot Steps

Page IV

After Bosna-Hercegovina we swept into Serbia and bumped right into more tomb stones 18th cent. till now ones. Great stiff relief figures all painted Some with 1st World War uniforms holding umbrellas. Mimi’s official trip photo grapfer and we’ll have snaps to show you. We’ve seen lots & lots of monastaries and churches now and millions of saints.

[Under the ‘Yugo Hotel’ sign, Mimi asks, ‘Reddie What do bed bugs look like?’ and a depiction of Grooms, seated at a typewriter, saying ‘Well Tom I better wind up this letter’ and typing on a long scroll in red:] Dear Tom I have to write in this picture code because the folks here are very curious especially in Kosmit. Now we’re in Masedonia heading for Ohrid way down in the south on a big lake right across from Albania. Then back up north through Montenegro to Dubruvnik.

Every town has one gaint delapadated , 5 yr. ole hotel. And there’s no place else to stay. The people are wilder here lively and very shabby and kind of Arab like. Lots are from Albania.

Page V

We drove right down to the border of Yujoslavia Greece & Albania but didn’t have our passports. Stayed at Ohrid a real rice [corrected by Grooms to ‘nice’] town on a lake right at the bottom of the country. Lots of pretty things to see here. Going to be heading up north now. [Drawings on this page depict green hills with a sign reading ‘Greece’ and patrolled by a soldier, across from red hills labeled ‘Albania’ and patrolled by a green monster. In between is a sign that reads:] Zone of the boundry travel at your own risk [Underneath are pictures of a car driving around cows and a shepherd in a field next to a lake with the sign ‘nice lake’ and a submarine labeled ‘Albanian sub.’]

We’ll ferry back to Pastaland from Dubrouvnik and buz around the boot and Sicily. Sigh pant pant

Well Tom I’d better sign off. Very best to you from Mimi and I and to Larry. Hope you’re having a swell summer and doing lots of vork. [A drawing in the lower margin shows a sculptor at work in his studio surrounded by colorful abstract sculptures with a record player playing music and a coffee maker on a table.] Love Red & Mimi [Mimi has added a small stick figure drawing]. letter completed 8.16.68”

After a formal art education at the Art Institute of Chicago and the New School, Grooms opened his New York City Gallery where he and Jay Milder hosted Claes Oldenberg’s first exhibition. Among the other artists who exhibited at the gallery was Mimi Gross, the daughter of sculptor Chaim Gross, and to whom Grooms was married from 1963-1976. She collaborated with him on his popular sculptural dioramas City of Chicago and Ruckus Manhattan as well as some of his film work during the 1960s. His unique site-specific “sculpto-pictoramas” have been exhibited around the world.

Abstract artist Sarah Canright (b. 1941) and her husband, Imagist artist Edward C. Flood (1944-1985) both attended the Art Institute of Chicago and relocated to New York in 1973, where they lived in the same building as Grooms.

A felt-tip drawing depicting a street scene of Yugoslavia, presumably made on the same trip, sold at auction in 2002 for $1700. Folded and near fine. An outstanding illustrated letter unlike anything we have ever seen.

Astonishing Five-Page, Fully Illustrated “Red” Grooms ALS

    Just this once...
    Please share your name and email address to receive:

      We will not share your contact info