Melvin J. Ramos (24 July 1935 – 4 October 2018) is an American Pop artist famous for his comic book like experimenting with Pop imagery and the female form. Born in Sacramento, California, USA, Mel Ramos studied art at Sacramento State College in 1958, where he met and studied under Wayne Thiebaud, who would become a lifelong friend.
Mel Ramos taught for several years in the Bay Area before garnering fame in the early 1960s. His work appeared alongside Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol at a Pop Art show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA in 1963.
Ramos’s superheroes and nudes are deeply interrelated, both products of his search for iconic subjects. “Comic books, girlie magazines, magazine ads, billboards are all art to me,” he has explained. “The whole point of my art is that art grows out of art. That is central, no matter whether it is high art, low art, popular art or whatever else.”
For that reason, Ramos has always been attentive to the culture surrounding him, which he has compellingly interpreted through timeless artistic media, reinvigorating well-established genres.
Much as his superhero paintings draw on the history of heroic portraiture reaching back to masterpieces by Jacques-Louis David, he has integrated the pin-up into the tradition of nudes exemplified by past masters including Francois Boucher.
Crucial to his Pop sensibility, Ramos keeps a cool distance from the issues his paintings evoke. His
dedication to making art that grows out of art manifests in his extraordinary command of form and color, delivered with virtuoso brushwork in thick impasto. In that sense, the work is as timeless as the Old Masters he once studied.
Mel Ramos’s work has been exhibited extensively worldwide, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Albertina Museum in Vienna and is featured in various collections of major museums throughout Europe and the USA.
Mel Ramos created two Phantom pieces as part of his 1960s superhero art series:
Title: The Phantom
Dimensions: 124.4cm x 109.5cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location: Smithsonian American Art Museum, USA
Title: The Phantom #2
Dimensions: 76.8cm x 47.3cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas