Legacy of the Artist and his Artwork
Mel Ramos (b. 1935) was an American figurative painter who is best known for his paintings of female nudes in the contexts of commercialism and sleek graphic design. Born in Sacramento, California to a first-generation Portuguese-Azorean immigrant family, his work has become synonymous with iconic paintings of superheroes and voluptuous female nudes bursting through banana peels, stepping out of candy wrappers or lounging in martini glasses. His first exhibition in 1957 featured his early work in figurative abstractions at the Crocker Art Museum in a group show titled Seven Painters Under Thirty. As one of the first artists to paint images from comic books, he exhibited at LACMA in 1963 with other emerging Pop artists of the time, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol – ranking him among the founders of “Pop Art” in America. As artists of that time increasingly questioned the rise of consumer culture, they also incorporated the solid colors and graphic forms of commercial art into their approaches to painting. Following from the more abstract style of his mentor, Wayne Thiebaud, Ramos’s distinctive flair for reinventing the classic female nude as a form of beauty, play and even irony, became more closely associated with other California artists of his time, especially the “cool school” of the 1970s. His most notable Pop Art invocations brought comic book superheroes into new contexts of power and play – combined with his signature nudes into a 2012 retrospective, returning to the site of his first exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum: Mel Ramos: 50 Years of Superheroes, Nudes and Other Pop Delights.
Over a sixty year career, Mel Ramos exhibited in more than 120 group shows and solo exhibits around the world, represented by galleries in California, New York, Spain, Austria and Germany, and marking him as a foremost international artist of the 20th and early 21st centuries.