Explore Half a Century of Pop Culture with Mel Ramos at the Crocker Art Museum

Mel Ramos, “Lolita,” 1966. Oil on canvas and Masonite, 152 x 102 cm. Leta and Mel Ramos Family Collection. Art © Mel Ramos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NYMel Ramos' 50 years of Superheroes, Nudes, and Other Pop Delights  is one exhibit that makes no apologies. When I first entered the Crocker Art Museum I half-expected to see an Andy Warhol-esque display, having learned about pop art for a brief hour in my introductory art history college course. Much to my surprise, this exhibit features such unique paintings and sculptures with bright colors and fine lines that are downright breathtaking. Although much of Ramos' pop culture work was created in the '60s and '70s, I walked away from the exhibit relating his art to our current focus on femininity and consumerism.

Mel Ramos is a born Sacramentan, having studied at Sacramento Junior College (now Sacramento City College), and receiving his bachelor's and master's from Sacramento State. Ramos' now returns to Sacramento to display his brilliant work--which spans over his 50-year career--for his first hometown survey.

Mel Ramos, “Wonder Woman #1,” 1962. Oil on canvas, 127 x 112 cm. Rochelle Leininger Collection. Art © Mel Ramos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NYThe exhibit begins with Ramos' early Abstract Expressionism pieces, created in the '50s. Then we see a progression as Ramos begins to adapt a style all his own. Then in '62, he begins the movement into pop culture with the use of superheroes, both male and female, such as Batman and Superwoman. Finally, there is a burst of light as Ramos reveals an array of nude works of females (who all closely resemble famous actresses) posing with consumer products. The products and styling of the women reflect the period that the piece was created--Ramos refers to these as "the nudes of our time." Whether a model was surrounded by navel oranges or emerging from a glass of Cola, the message was clear: no matter what year it is, once women enter the public eye their bodies are no longer theirs.

Along with these fascinating pieces this exhibit features some of Ramos' beautiful landscape imagery that is not only eye-catching but reminiscent of true Mel Ramos, “Five Flavor Frieda: The Lost Painting of 1965 #47,” 2005. Oil on canvas, 54 x 80 in. Collection of Don Sanders, Courtesy of McClain Gallery. Art © Mel Ramos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY West-Coast & California style. Mel Ramos' exhibit possesses timeless work that brings the '60s and '70s into the 21st century. No matter your artistic preference this exhibit is sure to impress, leaving you in awe and having you walk away thinking.

Mel Ramos: 50 Years of Superheroes, Nudes, and Other Pop Delights can be seen at the Crocker Art Museum through October 21, 2012. The Museum is open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm and on Thursdays until 9pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

To learn more about Mel Ramos, visit his website.

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Written by Sacramento365.com Intern Lauren Luedtke

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Image 1: Mel Ramos, “Lolita,” 1966. Oil on canvas and Masonite, 152 x 102 cm. Leta and Mel Ramos Family Collection. Art © Mel Ramos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Image 2: Mel Ramos, “Wonder Woman #1,” 1962. Oil on canvas, 127 x 112 cm. Rochelle Leininger Collection. Art © Mel Ramos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Image 3: Mel Ramos, “Five Flavor Frieda: The Lost Painting of 1965 #47,” 2005. Oil on canvas, 54 x 80 in. Collection of Don Sanders, Courtesy of McClain Gallery. Art © Mel Ramos/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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