One of the most popular works of art in the Modern's collection, Ruckus Rodeo by New York artist Red Grooms, will be installed in the Museum's new building for the first time, coinciding with the 2005 Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. Ruckus Rodeo is an immense, walk-through work of art that covers 1,237 square feet of gallery space. It consists of painted two-dimensional surfaces and sculptural three-dimensional figures that re-create the Fort Worth rodeo. Grooms has referred to this work as a "sculpto-pictorama." Sculpture wire, canvas, burlap, acrylic paint, and a fiberglass compound known as celastic were used to construct the work’s Texas-sized, larger-than-life, three-dimensional caricatures of rodeo archetypes, which include the rodeo queen and her steed, a bucking bronc, playful rodeo clowns, and a giant yellow bull named Butter.
Ruckus Rodeo was commissioned for the Museum's 1976 exhibition The Great American Rodeo. Grooms was one of eleven artists invited to create a work for this show. In preparation, he attended every rodeo performance during Fort Worth's 1975 Stock Show and made many sketches. From these studies, Grooms drew a panoramic rodeo scene spanning more than seven feet, which served as the basis for Ruckus Rodeo's design. Grooms returned to his studio in New York to fabricate the work's major figures. In 1976, he returned to Fort Worth with the talented fifteen-member group of painters, sculptors, engineers, and carpenters known as the "Ruckus Construction Co.," who helped in the final assembly of Grooms's robust tableau.
Associate Curator Andrea Karnes comments, "We are thrilled to present Red Grooms's Ruckus Rodeo for the first time in our new building in honor of Fort Worth's 2005 Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. Ruckus Rodeo is an important example of environmental sculpture and an amazing tribute to one of our city's most prized traditions. Created on an epic scale, this colorful, dynamic work has become an all-time favorite for Museum visitors, and since its creation nearly thirty years ago, it has continued to capture the excitement and spirit of the rodeo." 000Ruckus Rodeo portrays the chaos, entertainment, and danger of the Fort Worth rodeo. Grooms's engaging work is characterized by a grand sense of spectacle, encompassing the ritual, pageantry, and disorderly commotion of a real rodeo event. The artist's interest in naive and primitive objects, such as folk art puppets and toys, is easily seen in this work. His rich, arbitrary use of bold and unmodulated colors combined with angular contours creates a loud, brash ambience. Despite the work's cartoonish flair, it is clearly inflected with an urban sensibility. The characters' outfits, for example, are more like the vibrant apparel of the urban cowboy than the typical dusty clothing of a working cowboy. Grooms has managed to balance naivete and sophistication, parody and reality. Ruckus Rodeo celebrates the grand heritage of Fort Worth and the mythology of the American West, and continues to be one of the most beloved works in the Modern's collection.