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date: 17 November 2019

Ramos, Mel locked

(b Sacramento, CA, July 24, 1935).
  • Catherine M. Grant


(b Sacramento, CA, July 24, 1935).

American painter and printmaker. He studied in California at San Jose State College (1955–6) and Sacramento State College, where he received his MFA in 1958. His early paintings, influenced by the work of his friend and mentor Wayne Thiebaud, were figurative studies in thick impasto and muted tones of grey. In 1961 he started to paint comic-book superheroes, such as Superman (1961; see E. Claridge, p. 28), using a brighter palette. These were quickly followed by portraits of heroines from similar sources; by gradually emphasizing their sexuality and refining the quality of the paint, he produced increasingly vibrant and slick images. These paintings led to his trademark images of scantily clad or nude girls, taken from the pages of ‘pin-up’ magazines such as Playboy and pictured as if playing a role in a cartoon or commercial. In Miss Grapefruit Festival (1964; San Francisco, CA, MOMA), the model’s smiling head and torso are surrounded by grapefruit, with the ‘Sunkist’ logo in the background. Ramos was identified with the Pop art movement because of his investigation of the iconography of such mass-produced sources as magazines, comics and advertisements; although his work of the early 1960s was at odds with Pop in its painterly technique, he went further than most in courting vulgarity, bad taste and sexual imagery, arousing antagonism from feminists. His concentration on the female nude continued beyond the Pop portraits of the 1960s when he began work in ...

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