SACRAMENTO, CA.- The Crocker Art Museum
presents a survey of the work of internationally acclaimed artist and Sacramento native Mel Ramos in the exhibition Mel Ramos: 50 Years of Superheroes, Nudes, and Other Pop Delights. This is the first American museum survey of his work in 35 years, the first major exhibition of his work in his hometown, and it follows his recent solo show at the Albertina in Vienna, Austria. The exhibition features 70 paintings, drawings, and sculptures spanning Ramos 50-year career and is on view from June 2 through October 21, 2012.
This survey showcases each of Ramos creative phases, including his early Abstract Expressionist paintings, his renderings of superheroes from the 1960s, and the commercially inspired nudes that made him famous. The latter, which Ramos started painting in the mid-1960s and continues to produce today, feature nude female figures wrapped around giant soda bottles, popping out of candy wrappers, and lounging on fresh fruit and other consumer products. Also included are paintings from the artists series of art-historical tributes, in which he combines master works with sex appeal, as well as his lesser-known paintings of the California landscape and recent figurative sculptures.
Ramos pursued art training at Sacramento Junior College, now Sacramento City College, and received his bachelors and masters from Sacramento State. He went on to teach art at the high school and college levels, spending the majority of his professional career teaching at California State University, Hayward, now CSU East Bay. In the mid-1960s, Ramos became associated with the international phenomenon known as Pop Art, and his superheroes and nudes were exhibited alongside the work of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann, Wayne Thiebaud, and others.
While his exuberant, celebratory, and blatantly sexy paintings of women are included under the Pop Art umbrella, Ramos considers his depictions to be nudes in the art-historical sense and not pin-ups, said Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., associate director and chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum. In the end, it is Ramos love of subject, combined with playful humor and slick sensuality, that truly make his superheroes, nudes, and other pop delights so distinctly Californian.