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Self-Portrait with Barnum, Edison, Twain, and Rice

Artist
Red Grooms, born 7 Jun 1937
Sitter
Red Grooms, born 7 Jun 1937
Phineas Taylor Barnum, 5 Jul 1810 - 7 Apr 1891
Thomas Alva Edison, 11 Feb 1847 - 18 Oct 1931
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 30 Nov 1835 - 21 Apr 1910
Dan Rice, 23 Jan 1823 - 22 Feb 1900
Date
2008
Type
Drawing
Medium
Ink and white correction fluid on paper
Dimensions
Sheet: 76.7 x 57.4cm (30 3/16 x 22 5/8")
Mat: 99.1 x 78.7 x 2.1cm (39 x 31 x 13/16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© 2010 Red Grooms / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Object number
NPG.2009.60
Exhibition Label
Born Nashville, Tennessee
In his highly energized self-portrait, Red Grooms gives us a tangible sense of something rarely depicted visually: the intellectual life of the artist. Grooms, one of a number of American artists at midcentury who helped to reestablish the figure as a subject for art, made his name with a zany, unorthodox take on representation. His paintings, prints, sculptures, and films mined a vein of comic mania hard to reconcile with cool pop art and minimalist trends. Grooms's crowd-pleasing whimsies caused one art historian to describe him as a "latter-day P. T. Barnum or Walt Disney, albeit crossed with Marcel Duchamp." Surrounding him are his visualized embodiments of people whose biographies he has recently read; Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, P. T. Barnum, and the nineteenth-century clown Dan Rice all haunt his memory.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection