The West Coast Pop Artist Mel Ramos (born July 24, 1935) has died in California, age 83. He was best known as an American figurative painter, specialising in the satirisation of pin-up art. His female nudes, incorporated elements of realism and abstract art.
Born in Sacramento, California, to a first generation Portuguese-Azorean immigrant family, he gained his popularity as part of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Ramos is “best known for his paintings of superheroes and voluptuous female nudes emerging from cornstalks or Chiquita bananas, popping up from candy wrappers or lounging in martini glasses”. He was also a university art professor.
Ramos attended Sacramento Junior College and San Jose State College. One of his earliest art teachers was Wayne Thiebaud, who is considered his mentor, and who remains a friend. Ramos received his B.A. and his M.A. from Sacramento State College, finishing his education in 1958.
He received his first important recognition in the early 1960s; since 1959 and participated in more than 120 group shows. Along with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, he was one of the first artists to do paintings of images from comic books, and works of the three were exhibited together at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1963. Along with Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann and Wayne Thiebaud, Ramos produced artworks that celebrated aspects of popular culture as represented in mass media. His paintings have been shown in major exhibitions of Pop art in the U.S. and Europe and reproduced in books, catalogues, and periodicals throughout the world.
A retrospective of over 50 years of his work was held at the Crocker Art Museum in his hometown of Sacramento on June 2, 2012. This show was “the first major exhibition of his work in his hometown”, and his first American retrospective in 35 years. His work in the era of Me Too was often taken out of context and his work was referred to as sexist.