Red Grooms’ The Bookstore

With its amusing details, riotous color, and exploding perspectives, The Bookstore by Red Grooms has been a beloved highlight of the Hudson River Museum for more than forty years.


Red Grooms (American, b. 1937). The Bookstore, 1978–2008. Mixed media. Museum Purchase, 1980 (80.4.1).

In the late 1970s, the Museum commissioned Red Grooms to create a sculpto-pictorama that would introduce visitors to contemporary art, enliven the Brutalist architecture of its 1969 addition, and function simultaneously as an artwork and a working gift shop. In 2008, to ensure its preservation, the environmental sculpture was restored and re-installed in the Thomas Voter Gallery, in collaboration with both the artist and Tom Burckhardt, a painter and sculptor who assisted Grooms in his large-scale creations for many years.

Raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Grooms moved to New York in 1956 and quickly immersed himself in the downtown cultural scene. A cultural icon since the Pop art movement of the 1960s, Grooms creates paintings and sculptures with bright colors, expressionist verve, and theatricality that have an immediate impact. The Bookstore incorporates many of the themes that are present throughout Grooms’ body of work: the marriage of art and commerce, the clash of high and low, and humor—all arranged in an inviting three-dimensional space.

Each time a visitor encounters and enters The Bookstore, they experience a creative moment, during which they are transformed from passive audience into active performer. Grooms offers us the choice of two entrances: the stately and scholarly Pierpont Morgan Library, or the busy and modest Mendoza’s Book Company, which was the oldest secondhand bookshop in New York City before it closed in 1990. To Grooms, this particular fusion is his “idea of heaven.” Inside, an atmosphere of exuberance envelops us in the form of dazzling color, decoration, and pattern, as we join a cast of characters engaged in countless scenarios. No matter how many times you visit The Bookstore, you will always find something new.


Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.

The Bookstore is accompanied by Collection Spotlight: Late Twentieth-Century Art, a rotating selection of prints from the late 1960s to the 1980s by contemporaries of Red Grooms.