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Mango Mango (Gangster and Moll Dancing the Tango)

Believed to have originated in the brothels of Argentina, tango has always possessed a tantalizing mixture of passion, danger, and sensuality. Its blend of sex, social classes, and high and low culture worked perfectly for Grooms’ humorous take on urban life. Despite its cartoonish, paper cut-out simplicity, the print suggests the handsome, fedora-wearing “King of Tango” Carlos Gardel (1890–1935), who brought tango to Hollywood and helped transform the art form from lower class “gangster” music into an international bourgeois craze. An electric blue line running from the smoke of their cigarettes in an S-curve down the arm and leg of the man’s suit seems to link the possibly interracial couple in an unbreakable bond. The Latin American subject, bright saturated colors, and theme of love may have been chosen because the print was to be sold for the benefit of Nicaraguan earthquake victims.

Red Grooms
American, born 1937
Mango Mango (Gangster and Moll Dancing the Tango)
Color silkscreen on paper
Image/sheet: 40 x 29 in. (101.5 x 73.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Argosy Partners and Bond Street Partners 80.22.1

Large image not available.