California Pop Icon, Mel Ramos has passed away at the age of 83 of heart failure, on Sunday Oct. 14, 2018.
As a tribute to Mel Ramos, this week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Verna Burger, Ramos’ first print, created in 1965.
21 1/2 x 17 in.
Edition of 500
Pencil signed and numbered
About the work:
Few things are more appealing to a man than a sexy seductive pinup model and a good old fashion cheeseburger.
In his own way, Mel Ramos, a pioneer of American Pop Art on the west coast, captured American thought, fervor, and society of the times.
To the outsider looking in, Ramos’ art was nothing more than a hot naked woman coming out of an unwrapped candy bar, lying with an exotic animal, or in this case, sitting on a cheeseburger. However to the insider, Mel Ramos’ art is the juxtaposition of naked women with larger than life commercial products, and represents issues of the times.
The 1950’s and 1960’s brought innovation, and commercialization, tied with consumerism to America, and on the flip side brought a break with traditional values and a loss of innocence, a “breaking out of its shell” if you will. The birth of television, and movies, helped bring about both consumerism, and sexuality to the forefront of every American.
Advertisements shaped our culture of what society “needs” and “wants”. The rise of pinup calendars, Playboy Magazine, and the Hollywood sex symbols in the movies, shaped our youth, moving them forward into a more rebellious and break from traditional thinking as a society as a whole.
Many of the Pop Artists, like Johns, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, and Lichtenstein, all painted about the same topics as Ramos, but Mel Ramos’ art was more direct, and less abstract. There was no room for interpretation. It was what it was! And that is perhaps why Ramos never achieved the same level of appreciation of fame as his contemporaries. However, Ramos was one of 12 artists, along with Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein, in the Los Angeles County Museum, of the Arts 1963 Pop art show that showcased the burgeoning new movement.
Verna Burger is the prime example of Ramos’ brand of Pop. The work has all the allure of a pinup with the vintage 1960’s look and sexual undertones. There is a delicate femininity to Verna in the way she is seated, playing with a long string of pearls and her 1960’s inspired bob hairdo. While the sex appeal is obvious, it is more coquettish than images we may see today.
Mel Ramos’ work did evolve to be more flashy or showy over the years, but Verna Burger brings viewers back to different era and represents the epitome of what Ramos collectors are after: a style of subtle suggestiveness and innuendo, paired with a commercial product that is nostalgic of a different time.