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Bonhams New York to offer Mel Ramos' iconic 1960s super-villain The Trickster
Mel Ramos (American, born 1935), The Trickster, 1962. Oil on canvas, 44 x 50 in. (111.7 x 127cm). Est. US$500,000-700,000. Photo: Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams will offer the exceptional Mel Ramos painting, The Trickster, executed in 1962 in the upcoming May 14 Contemporary Art auction to be held at Bonhams 580 Madison Avenue gallery (est. $500,000-700,000). Coming from a private Sacramento, Calif. collection, the painting was purchased directly from the artist. Although it has been exclusively owned for decades, it has garnered significant critical acclaim and was recently included in the Crocker Art Museum’s 2012 Ramos’ retrospective, Mel Ramos: Fifty Years of Superheroes, Nudes and Other Pop Delights.

The painting dates from Ramos’ most storied period, when he was at the forefront of the emerging Pop Art movement. Under the guidance of Ivan Karp at the Castelli Gallery, and aided by influential curators such as Lawrence Alloway (the man who popularized the term “Pop Art”), Ramos, along with notable contemporaries like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, boldly introduced figurative work that reflected a common American visual vernacular. Replete with comics, cartoons, beauty queens and superheroes, Ramos’ work elevated the commercial image in a way that would come to define the genre.

The Trickster features the 1960 DC Comics® super-villain the Trickster (arch nemesis of the Flash) gleefully escaping an unknown pursuer, his expertly rendered hands clutching stolen jewelry. The Trickster is a classic Ramos work, awash in the California-inspired color palette imparted to Ramos by his mentor, Wayne Thiebaud, and featuring a distinct impasto technique throughout. The movement of the figure is particularly striking, especially the treatment of the Trickster’s shoes, which were capable of walking on air. As a result, the figure floats effortlessly above the ground, as evidenced by his shadow beneath him, while simultaneously appearing to run aggressively across the canvas.

“All of Ramos’ superheroes and heroines from this legendary period are important, but super-villain paintings such as The Trickster are quite rare as Ramos painted far fewer of them,” explains Jeremy Goldsmith, Bonhams New York Director of Contemporary Art. “The exceptional provenance and powerful composition of this piece are sure to appeal to the most sophisticated contemporary art collectors, in addition to individuals and institutions focused on Pop Art specifically.”

Mel Ramos’ The Trickster will be offered in the May 14 Contemporary Art auction at Bonhams New York.

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