Home > Art History, Artist of the Week, Uncategorized > Artist of the Week: Mel Ramos

Artist of the Week: Mel Ramos

Pop artist Mel Ramos is best known for his work with the tropes of the nude in the form of the mass media girly pin ups ala Playboy magazine.  He often pairs the model with a branded product in a parody of -or possibly a more honest representation of- using sex appeal to sell merchandise.  A more recent series of his which includes the reinterpretation of Olympia by Manet above, he creates a personal version updating famous paintings in the Western canon.

I had to select a painting to write an essay about for a college art class and it had to be a work on current display at MCA Chicago.  I selected his painting Zebra from 1970.  It’s hard to find a whole lot written about Mel Ramos and a good look at his CV showed he listed his teachers going all the way back to high school.  I figured anyone who has that level of humility and gratitude even as a big time artist might respond to me.  I took a shot and emailed him some questions in 2009 and was so excited when he answered them.  I learned that he uses the solid color field backgrounds because he does not like to paint backgrounds.  (Neither do I!)  He had painted Zebra after a trip he had just taken to Africa and was impressed at the majesty of zebras from seeing them in person and wanted to paint one when he got home.

My instructor said to me in the museum she did not like Mel Ramos personally and found his work politically sexist when I told her I was picking Zebra.  I was not going to be deterred by her opinions.  To be fair, viewing pornography and sexualized depictions of women as a form of cultural and/or economic domination toward women is not uncommon to women that arrived at Feminist ideas in the 1960s and 1970s.  It’s a Second Wave mentality and outdated; chalk it up to a generational difference.  I categorize myself as a Sex Positive Third Wave Feminist and I like Mel Ramos.  He paints so smoothly and perfectly in oils, the works are nearly photographs.  The women he paints look like real women and not anorectic adolescent super models who have had plastic surgery, implants and a Photoshop makeover.  I gave my instructor the big academic middle finger by writing my essay on Zebra despite her attempts to dissuade me and upholding it as a Feminist work.  It got the top grade possible and she wasn’t able to punch any holes in my essay from either an art historical or political standpoint.

As the lively American art scene of the 1960s evolved and Pop Art creators like Warhol and Lichtenstein gained increasing celebrity status for product portrayals and comic book renditions, one artist brought figurative female nudes to fine art in a decidedly más macho expression.  Decades of portrayals of women as scantily clad or nude, ranging from “pin-up” and calendar girls flaunting their flirtatiousness in World War II to Playboy (the magazine founded in 1953, the first club in 1960) centerfolds had by 1970 become recognizably ingrained into American popular culture.  This cultural shift reflects strongly in the large scale painting Zebra from 1970 by Mel Ramos.

The work is a nude of a younger blonde woman astride a zebra.  She smiles toward the viewer, her thick hair held up over her bangs by a yellow bow, the tan lines from a bikini making her to be more of “the girl next door” while the zebra she rides is more enigmatic.  The background is a level shade of pale green, a color field that she and zebra are posed against.  Shadows from the animal’s hooves fall on the planar ground, the woman’s leg casts a shadow against the animal’s side.  Close analysis of the work reveals softly undulating lines around the zebra where colors stream together showing long, flowing brush strokes applied by the hand of the artist.

The smooth application of oil paint, the various textures expressed, the warm skin tones, evoke the feeling of a large scale color photograph.  The online edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Art lists Mel Ramos dually as a Pop Artist and a Super-realist artist.  The skill in representation is easily comparable to being photographic.  The coat of the zebra, the hairs on the muzzle of the zebra and the subtle eyelashes look real.  Many of Ramos’ works are referential to popular culture by featuring familiar items or products.  Ramos responded to my inquiry about why a zebra is portrayed.

“During the time when I did the Zebra I made a trip to Kenya and was absolutely blown away by the primal realities of the animal world,” he wrote.  “I found the Zebra to be a beautifully designed animal that I wanted to celebrate.”

Zebra, being dated to 1970, can be understood to also have come to the viewing public in a time of fractious debate over gender roles and how they affect social location.  Offering this work to the public would have been more controversial then due to intensely polarizing social and political debates on gender and sexuality; the work risking controversy rather than gaining acceptance as a female nude in the long tradition of portraying figurative work in western art, from the ancient Greeks to present.  Henry David Thoreau may have reflected that any human being, in a natural state, would not be dressed in any clothing, but women were challenging media portrayals and many other social modes as upholding male domination.  Part of this debate can lead, even in the present day, into ongoing controversy about the historical descent of the portrayal of women in art to serve singularly as objects of the male gaze and that the outstanding body of fine art portraying women over the centuries was not created by women themselves.  Yet in contemporary America, these historic precedents have been broken as women have access to create their own portrayals in fine art and media.

         Time tempers even the strongest of sexual controversies with evolving, varied views.  Today, you are just as likely to find a self-professed Third Wave Feminist supporting video pornography as being Sex Positive as you are to find a woman who objects to the subject.  The current media driven social environment has caused a radical shift in film pornography to a point where female performers are the primary economic beneficiaries of a pornographic film as opposed to being oppressed economic conscripts.  In her book Stiffed, Susan Faludi details that in pornography “…the average actress makes 50 to 100 percent more money than her male counterpart” (535).

Contemporary Third Wave Feminism has shifted opinions on such a portrayal as the painting Zebra from being a source of polarizing debate to being Sex Positive.  Zebra predated the release of Playgirl magazine in 1973 which leveled the playmate portrayal playing field and was a harbinger of evolving Feminist Sex Positive views as relating to women being open and accepting toward their sexuality and sexualized portrayals, at least beginning with those within the heterosexual binary system.  Far from the demure, generic caricature of a woman, her eyes downcast in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding Portrait or the averted gaze of the Titian Workshop’s depiction of Danae, the portrait of the woman in Zebra is sexually alluring and –more remarkably- engaging the viewer with confidence.

        

Shellie Lewis

October 7, 2009

See more work by Mel Ramos at his website here.

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  1. Edwardo
    June 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I like you take on the female nude depicted in fine art. A strong, confident and natural approach. I am looking forward to seeing Mel’s show at the Crocker soon.

    • June 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      How exciting. I wish I could travel! The California art scene has always seemed to have its own distinctive styles and personalities and has always seemed to be it’s own bubble. NYC and major east coast universities has been historically dominant in art movements and nationally recognized artists, so viewed from the outside California seems to have its own independent art culture, more pragmatic and media savvy with a wider range of media and styles.

  2. Edwardo
    June 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I agree with way you say about California having its own art bubble. One of the distinctions that most successful commercial artists in California have is having had an experience early on in their career in NYC. If you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere. As Gaga said, I am from NYC, I can smell BS a mile away. In NYC one learns at an early age in an art career what rings true or hollow. The West Coast Experience though is different in that all cues seem remote and one can see hype for what it is, attention getting, superficial but yet at the same time daringly exploratory. It takes guts no matter where you are to do your art for your self honoring a personal vision. I thought it interesting to read Nancy Boas’ new book, A painter’s life, the bio of David Park, a Boston import to California who started the Bay Area Figurative School. I have always admired East Coast artists, yet been happy to be a West Coast artist with more of a open range perception. NYC runs deep, West Coast runs wide. I like the balance of both and what they bring together synergistically in terms of artistic development as the world gets smaller.

    • June 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Yes! I think you articulated the California art bubble perfectly. Thank you! I would half jokingly quote Joakim Noah, what he said when the Bulls got stomped by the Miami Heat, about California artists: “They Hollywood as hell, but they good.”

      Chicago runs in packs. The art scene is small, insular and clique driven. Most people are doing art or theater purely on personal motivation with little to no financial success. I feel like there are walls around the Chicago scene bubble to bubble from the big money gallery scene, to the studio practice bubbles, to whatever manages to exist on the street level. It seems to me that overlaps happen when artists work in different media or collaboratives and intentionally cross clique borders. They seem to be few. Living here is weirdly like being stuck in high school in perpetuity. Most artists seem to hunker down in their niche and social circle.

      I was able to spend two weeks in NYC and loved talking to artists, theater people and the general public. There was so much more going on, I found a higher level of cultural education and a certain openness to communicate. They were funny, too. “Oh you’re from Chicago?” said with a way that indicated “that little, podunk, backwater village. How quaint.” Then I come home after a lucky two weeks of chatting up sophisticated literati and realize Chicago is blue collar as hell.

      I will look for the Nancy Boa book. Thank you for the recommendation.

      Shellie

  3. September 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I like your sex positive take on Mel Ramos’ work. However, I didn’t appreciate the following body shame-filled sentence, “The women he paints look like real women and not anorectic adolescent super models who have had plastic surgery, implants and a Photoshop makeover.”

    What is a “real woman”? Does that definition include women of color? Young women? Fat women? Women with disabilities? Women who succumb to the pressures of society by altering their appearances (is it their fault?) because they know no other way?

    • September 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Your thin grasp of grammar and logic is appalling. It is in no way a “body-shame filled sentence”. “Real women” as in “can be witnessed in person” minus cosmetic alteration, surgical alteration and digital enhancement. You can’t find that in print unless it’s a “stars without make-up” exposé. I hope this clears things up. If it doesn’t, try some figure drawing classes. I appreciate your urge to play women and gender studies police; go target women getting labiaplasty with your concerns. I’m tired of people freshly armed with terminology that cannot read well.

  4. Edwardo
    September 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Go Shelly!!! :o)

  5. September 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you for using your academic standpoint to put down my intelligence and attack me rather than have a discussion with me.

    • September 26, 2012 at 11:23 am

      You’re welcome. Furthermore, you started it with your ignorance which I will further illustrate for your benefit. Do you go to the zoo and poke the tigers with a stick?

      You used the phrase “body-shaming” to accuse me of ignorance and misogyny on my own blog and therefore should have expected a rebuttal! Now you defend your ignorance by using the word “academic” as a pejorative. You do not get to go on the attack and then cry victim when I tell you off in my forum.

      I wrote “real” as in “authentic” or “natural” and attacked the social domination of women through the enforcement of youth-centric, artificial media imagery in the essay. You have completely failed to grasp the use of the word “real” which you have mistaken for the word “ideal”. You are confusing two disparate concepts! You are trying to discuss Idealism.

      When you go off half-cocked like this, you are hurting the greater Feminist movement and arming the people that attack efforts for greater social and legal gender equality. You look like a hypocrite for attacking another woman in her forum, you look like an idiot for failure in reading comprehension [ergo grasping the obvious] and you look like a radical for ranting. Every true misogynist, people that like to throw around words like “dyke” and “Feminazi” look for examplars like the one you provided as a basis for denigrating Feminism as a false political tool. You are aware sexism exists but have in this instance actually become part of the problem.

      If you wanted to address concerns about body-shaming and concepts of ideal beauty, I would have been totally open to it. It’s a long running discussion on this blog and I cover various artists whose body of work works with this subject matter.

      https://shellielewis.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/1142317805/

      I have many posts relevant to the media domination of women but my three favorites, by year, are:

      2012
      https://shellielewis.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/plus-model-magazine-ads-attack-hyper-thin-body-ideals/

      2011
      https://shellielewis.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/6646340012/

      2010
      https://shellielewis.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/689062660/

      I am sad that I had to state the obvious to you. I can only hope that you are younger person and to an extent a product of the declining standards in education I am personally experiencing as more prevalent the older I get. At lest you can write grammatically; I found half the students in the art program at my last college unable to write grammatically even with computer assistance. I would advise you that language use and vocabulary words are not substitutes for critical thinking, understanding complex issues or grasping underlying concepts. Please try to be more “academic” in your future flames. I am also advising you use “people with disabilities” going forward because “the disabled” is demeaning; the former has the benefit of acknowledging people first rather than just categorizing them as other.

      • September 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm

        I… didn’t say “the disabled,” I said “women with disabilities.” But I appreciate the correction as if I had made the mistake.

        I hope that you will take a breath and then re-read what you wrote as if you were writing to yourself.

        I wasn’t trying to flame you and I’m sorry if it came off that way. I was targeting a specific sentence you wrote that came off to me as saying that women who get cosmetic surgery and whatnot are not real women. I’m not talking about real as an ideal. What I’m trying to say is that all women are real and that yes, as you noted, portrayals of women in the media may be manipulated so that they are not real, but still it is not the women in those ads that we should be attacking. It is the people who manipulate them.

        I appreciate your other posts, although I think that while they brought up some good resources, they could use more detailed analysis relevant to the dynamics created by negative body/sex images on women coming from different places (places as in points in their lives, not geographical locations, although that does often factor in). And I’m glad you posted the Kilbourne videos. She did one of her presentations two years ago at our school and I wish that more people had attended.

        And I don’t like to nitpick things that aren’t truly relevant to the main discussion, but I really think you should check your educational/academic privilege, especially if you are also making a lot of spelling errors in your own writings (you were also borderline ageist with the younger person retort, although I know what you meant. I wish that North America valued education as much as many other countries do.).

      • September 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        I was incorrect; you did write “women with disabilities”. I apologize.

        I have no idea why you could not just be succinct and write your view that all women are “real” women regardless of cosmetics or alterations, however I do not think digital enhancement is logical to this argument. A digitally altered image of a woman is in no way “real”. Cher, the singer, actually once stated she is not a real women, that she has had enough cosmetic surgery to be “the counterfeit twenty dollar bill” equivalent of a woman. Opinions will obviously fall within a spectrum on this matter.

        The proper concept of “body-shame” is indicating that people engaging in cosmetic enhancements and plastic surgery [excepting transgendered women] HAVE body shame and cannot be themselves in a natural state or can only have themselves within certain aesthetic parameters. The concept of body-shame is a basis for reflection in how much alteration any woman engages in things like shaving, electrolysis, dyeing eyelashes, labiaplasty, etc. You elected to react to what I wrote as an exclusionary statement. Again, I clarified my use of the word was indicative of authenticity, as could be witnessed first-hand, such as an artist’s model and in a natural state. For the record, breast implants look fake as do face-lifts and Botox. Therefore I would not classify them as authentic but rather as artificial.

        You want the voice I would use toward myself? I would offer that I have no fucking idea what you mean when you wrote I “should check your educational/academic privilege”. What the holy fuck does that even mean? I never asked for your opinion and frankly this statement is confusing. Furthermore, fuck you, there are not a lot of spelling errors in my own writing. Even if there were, barring have exported this whole blog from Tumblr’s shitty Macintosh driven proprietary platform, pointing out spelling errors on your behalf is an attempt to belittle. I don’t give a fuck about your opinion. Really, who’s nitpicking? You are an obnoxious holier than thou troll that really has perfected the art of talking down to someone. You can dish it out but can’t take it back. Put your big girl panties on and deal because you do not go onto someone else’s forum with an accusatory tone, backpedal and then whine about civility. Whether you meant to or not, it was a flame. You write with the very most motherfucking annoying condescending tone I have run into since my blog went under siege by a team of organized racists.

        I absolutely stand by the ageistic statement that the overwhelming majority of anyone under 25 are the product of an inferior education. My high school had higher academic standards than the major college I attended 2008 – 2010. I found my classmates borderline illiterate, unable to do basic mathematics or write a term paper, lazy, entitled and apathetic if they weren’t just stoned. They came to class stoned. The upper age tier of my generation has really managed to raise a seriously messed up pack of whiny, self important dilettante brats. Worse, roughly one third to half of them are eating prescription drugs like M&Ms. I talk to the teachers and one social worker I know and we collectively agree that an alarming number of the Ys are not capable of being self-supporting or navigating society on their own.

        If you want more detailed analysis “relevant to the dynamics created by negative body/sex images on women coming from different places” then go put it on your blog or take a class in gender studies. This is a multi-faceted art and visual culture blog and my personal platform. I am not here to re-create Feministing.com; they do a fine job on their own without me taking up any more of cyberspace beyond what is relevant to the specific aspects of art, art history and mass media I elect to comment about. I am not interested in your overall critique of my site or its content, you snide troll. I am terribly annoyed with you so go find another forum to irritate people on. If you care so much about Feminism, then do what I do and go do ACTUAL WORK by engaging with groups, interacting with people in person and joining progressive initiatives instead of siting around yapping online.

      • Edwardo
        September 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        Yay! Go Shelly, my heroine! “Big girl panties”…indeed!!

      • September 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Am I goofy or is her tone really snotty? Text is a poor substitute for the spoken voice. This person has really annoyed me.

        I am not going to run around a box canyon argument when I explained myself as not discussing Idealism nor being exclusionary toward any type of woman. I am more in the direction of discussing concept of the art reflecting co-presence with the subject as described by the semiotics theory of Charles Sanders Peirce in the 19th Century. We accept photography as “real” because the camera is co-present with the photographed; yet photography is artificial and highly manipulated even before a computer is involved.

        The phrase she’s freaking about was snarky. The “anorectic adolescent super models who have had plastic surgery, implants and a Photoshop makeover” are held up as ideal. They look like skeletal girls; girls, not women. I doubt their representations in magazine as they would in person. Lancombe cosmetics have used models as young as 14 – 15 and that is their preferred range. Girls and adolescents are not women; they are children. The most prized super-models are closest to resembling adolescents or are hyper-thin in lieu of youthful appearance. Even as Jean Kilbourne herself points out, tall thin women are not naturally big breasted and the runway models in the tiny percentage of the population who meet the height and weight parameters are surgically altered when the fashion people want 5’11” or taller with a maximum weight of 140 pounds.

      • Edwardo
        September 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        No, you are not goofy. This person is a critic who makes it her biz to criticize those who are actually creating something. I thought your comment about using young girls as models was accurate. When I was in the agency business in LA, as an assistant art director for Max Factor and Revlon, I cast young girls not women. I’d say the average was around 18 to 22 usually (this is to appeal to a market of 35+ year olds). There was no PhotoShop, so the modifications were rather minor to the excellent make up, lighting and photography. Now with PS, one can change the shape of the bone structure! My point is that the contemporary imagery has become an ideal of an unrealistic ideal ( a parody of itself). With PhotoShop Actions, one can manipulate the skin to actually look like plastic. Pick you battles, ignore her, like a fart in an elevator.

      • September 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm

        Have you ever seen the blog site “Emails From an Asshole”? The author goes through Craigslist to search for marks. His goal is to get as many email responses as he can from each mark as he feigns ignorance and gets progressively more vulgar and insinuating with his responses after the initial inquiry. The whole point of the activity is to bait and sustain the target. Some of the interactions are actually kind of funny but I am amazed by how many people just keep responding to him. I am usually done with someone irritating in one or two rounds. It seems people want to do things like this or argue in perpetuity for the entertainment value of arguing.

      • Edwardo
        September 27, 2012 at 1:57 am

        No, and I probably won’t go there. My life is full of enough debris. Twisted fun is nice especially when it is cerebral. But again choice and moderation … or as my friend the hat maker Charlie Tweddle says, “Moderation in everything including moderation”.

  6. infest
    September 27, 2012 at 11:36 am

    After reading your post and reading the discussion in the comments section, I have to post a defense of the user “hellxia”. Regardless of what the debate is, she makes legitimate points that you ignore. You talk down to her, accuse her of being ignorant, tell her: “I’m tired of people freshly armed with terminology that cannot read well”. That statement is so ignorant and disrespectful in itself that is appalling. I think that she was presenting a logical point there, and the least you could have done was answered her in a dignified way.
    Why is it that when folks try to make points about how women are portrayed in certain media, people say things like what you said: “I appreciate your urge to play women and gender studies police”, I don’t think that’s right.

    Furthermore, I don’t think people will want to come to your blog and try and engage in conversations with you about your work if you come off so harshly to people who don’t agree with you.

    Maybe you should put a disclaimer on your work before you post it telling people to not comment or try to talk to you if they don’t agree with you?

    Based on reading some of the responses here, I’m not really expecting a respectful answer from you, and I fully expect you to somehow divert the topic on the fact that I’m probably “just using arguments I learned in my college classes” or say “I’m tired of people who try to engage with me who have bad grammar or spelling”. But, whatever.

    I may or may not come back to this post to read what you say about it, but I wanted to share that opinion with you.

    Have a good day, good luck with your endeavors.

    • September 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      I had someone read this over and the opinion I got from a more neutral third party, one who would have no problem telling me I’m a jackass, was that hellxia jumped this to a conflict by instantly polarizing the discussion, i.e. if something is “A” then all else was assumed to “B” and therefore I, Shellie Lewis of Chicago, is wrong. The tone was lecturing. I detest when people use the word “academic” in a derogatory fashion. What is the point of that, to uphold one’s lack of education as a virtue or elevate ignorance? Maybe we rubbed each other the wrong way but I get trolled all the time and if people want to argue, it is in my best interest to promptly dissuade them if I don’t outright ban them. Honestly, my women & gender studies prof chewed up anyone that made broad generalizations. She would have mopped the floor with either of us on this conflict from here to hell and back.

      Anyone that goes on a multi-question-mark rant fest is opening their own can of Pringles. I am up on gender theory as anyone that went to a hyper-liberal art college [that has a bachelor’s degree in gay & lesbian studies] and if you want to throw down you need to know what aspects of gender theory you are discussing, as in *correct terminology*. I bashed it out with many fellow students and found the strife and conflict mutually beneficial. You learn to stand up for yourself and articulate what you believe in or you look like a twit. If she would have said up front and clearly she had a problem with the language use of the word “real” as divisive and exclusionary, that would have made sense to me and I would have agreed! Why was that so hard? The accusatory tone was read in part by the switch up [compliment, then slam] and the use of a loaded term like “body shame” with the vagaries of the ensuing multi-question-mark rant.What if the subject was writing. What about the introductory participle phrase? What about conjunctions? What about compound-complex sentences with the use of a semi-colon? Huh? HUH? See where that reads like a twenty-something that just had an “OMAGERD there’s like social injustice in the world” realization? You want to argue politics online, don’t paint me the villain for crossing sabers.

      None of this is helped by the fact that I could have stopped and asked “hey, what do you mean?” because 1.) bad timing via sleep deprivation as my dog has been puking his head off around the clock for 48 hours, and 2.) really shitty first impression. Ye Olde Bait-n-Switch is a favorite troll tool, like “your blog is really great except…” That tactic. Prior experience is no help after being harassed and called a “hippy” and “nigger-lover” by those organized Chicago racists so I need to move off permanent orange alert status and dial it down. They sent some freaky shit here and to my email but because they are affiliated with LAW ENFORCEMENT nothing was actionable. No threats, no specifics. They knew what they were doing and why and how. It was unsettling. Their blog was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen since Matt Hale’s Aryan nation crap. I try to not look at evil shit but it is out there. I will do my part to increase the peace and dial it down in the future and try ball peen hammer instead of sledgehammer.

      Part of this conflict is that any word choice would have been problematical [i.e. natural, authentic, genuine] and it does invite the polarization of its opposite. I, in various responses, tried to clarify that 1. girls and adolescents are not women, 2. a number of technologies [cosmetics, digital image manipulation, even photography itself] are all artificial compiling an image that is a simulation, a construct ergo not “real”. I still don’t know that hellexia was totally clear on what she was reacting to outside of the polarization. It first seemed like she was taking umbrage with the idea of Idealism while using the term “body-shaming” yet then it seemed she was trying to voice concerns about Othering. Use the right vocabulary and it is less confusion! I am so honestly tired of people freshly armed with terminology that cannot read well. It’s practically a crisis in this nation. If you want to have a hissy about that, your prerogative. I am also tired of people who quote shit they never read: Marx, Nietzsche, Ché Guevara, Shakespeare. I personally do not quote anything I have not read. I wish I could FINE every person I catch doing that. (Also, that would be income.) I am tired of the self-aggrandizing appropriation of both vocabulary and literature as a superficial substitute for actual knowledge.

      The real gender policing is how fast a woman that shows aggression, unwarranted or even in her own defense, gets opprobrium.”Bad girl! How could you be mean to someone?” That’s the real Border Work. If I wrote this all and were a man then I would be stupid and mean and horrible, but naturally so due to my penis and chromosomes. A woman steps it up and gets nasty, call the National Guard. I believe you elected yourself to white knight status?

      Also, my spelling is fucking fine.

  7. Edwardo
    September 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    And now bring it full circle and define how this all, or in part, might may relate to the work of Mel Ramos. What a huge fukkin de-rail to a important topic. Sorry your dog is puking lately…seems to be going around!

    • September 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      I think the Culture Wars of the 1990s are in resurgence. Everything old is new again. It’s an election year and attacking gay rights, immigration and women is big on the list of distractions because no one wants to say the “A” word – Afghanistan.

      Did you get to see the Ramos show or is that too far away from your part of Cali?

      • Edwardo
        September 29, 2012 at 1:51 am

        I think you are right about the resurgence. Yes, I met Mel, he is a nice fellow. I was like an old groupie and had him pose for a bro picture and spew a nice blurb on his book for me. Photos on Facebook my page Edward Penniman. I am going on a road trip for a couple of week thru TX, NM, AZ see Lucian Freud’s show in TX and Edgar Payne in Pasadena, great painters. Later brainiac.

      • September 29, 2012 at 9:48 am

        That is so awesome. Mel is great. He responded to an email when I needed for the original paper I wrote. I wish he could mentor me. No one in Chicago takes Pop seriously, at least not that I’m finding.

        Lucian Freud’s work always seems to convey an exquisite suffering to me. It says “I’m am very intelligent and know just how horrifying life is.” Obviously he was close to Francis Bacon. Freud’s work is Realism and the depictions clear but the emotions match Bacon. Having lived through the Blitz and the impact of the horrors of WWII, the co-called “death of God” and loss of faith in order, was a massive impact on a whole generation of European artists. WWII was fast on the heels of WWI giving us Otto Dix, Max Beckman. WWII displaced many avant garde artists: Piet Mondrian pushed from Paris to NY, Josef Albers, Marc Chagall. The list of people is too big to compile. America got to be comfortable and reap the benefits of the globe’s top talents. I tire of art history texts that like to trumpet the post-war period of “American” innovation when it was really globalism arriving through refugees. Would we have had de Kooning, Pollock, Rothko -the New York School, their contemporaries and descendants- if we had not had a massive influx of European talent? This created a counterpoint to Norman Rockwell mainstream, Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth. America reaped the maximum artistic benefit in that time period.

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