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Mel Ramos

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Born 1935

Mel Ramos is an American figurative painter, whose work incorporates elements of realist and abstract art. Born in Sacramento, California, he gained his greatest popularity in association with the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Between 1954 and 1958 he studied at the Sacramento City College, the San José State College and the Sacramento State College, finishing with an MA. Mel Ramos received his first important recognition in the early 1960s along with other artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and James Rosenquist, Ramos produced art works that celebrated aspects of popular culture as represented in mass media. His paintings have been shown in major exhibitions of Pop Art in the States and in Europe, and reproduced in books, catalogues, and periodicals throughout the world.

Though primarily a figurative painter, Mel Ramos has experimented freely with realist and abstract art forms for the past twenty years. The popularity of his works is evident in the fact that since 1959 he has participated in more than 120 group shows. The subjects of his own works of the early sixties are taken from the world of comics. After participating in the exhibition Pop Goes the Easel at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston in 1963, he established himself as one of the main representatives of pop art besides Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rosenquist with the first exhibition of his own at Bianchini Gallery in New York the following year.

In the mid-sixties, Mel Ramos turned to the depiction of single female figures: Pin-up girls from advertisements and magazines are draped over painted commercial articles to parody the trivial and glamorous gestures of the advertisement industry, which tries to influence the consumer's choice by such marketing strategies. Ramos' comments about his art are succinct: ‘I make sure that my pictures are not too erotic and that they always have a trace of humour. I make sure they are in good taste. Either you understand it or not.’


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