Mel Ramos  

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"Mel Ramos, painted Manet's Olympia, Ingres's Grande Odalisque, and Velázquez's Venus with Cupid in the photographic style of Playboy pinups, with bikini tans and updated hairstyles" --Kitsch and Art (1996) by Tomas Kulka

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Melvin John Ramos (July 24, 1935 – October 14, 2018) was an American painter, specializing in paintings of female nudes, whose work incorporates elements of realist and abstract art. Born in Sacramento, California, to a first generation Portuguese-Azorean immigrant family, he gained his popularity as part of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. According to Victoria Dalkey, Ramos is "best known for his paintings of superheroes and voluptuous female nudes emerging from cornstalks or Chiquita bananas, popping up from candy wrappers or lounging in martini glasses". He also interpreted the female nudes of European masters in paintings such as Touché Boucher (1972-73), which is a pastiche of the Odalisque blonde by François Boucher.



Ramos attended Sacramento Junior College and San Jose State College. One of his earliest art teachers was Wayne Thiebaud, who is considered his mentor, and who remains a friend. Ramos received his B.A. and his M.A. from Sacramento State College, finishing his education in 1958.

Academic career

From 1958 to 1966, Ramos taught Art at Elk Grove High School and Mira Loma High School in Sacramento. After two brief college teaching assignments, he began a long career (1966–97) at California State University, East Bay, in Hayward, California, and then served as Professor Emeritus. He has been Artist in Residence at Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin.


Ramos married Leta Ramos in 1955, and she was the model for many of his early nude paintings.

Art career

Ramos received his first important recognition in the early 1960s; since 1959 he has participated in more than 120 group shows. Along with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, he was one of the first artists to do paintings of images from comic books, and works of the three were exhibited together at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1963. Along with Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann and Wayne Thiebaud, Ramos produced art works that celebrated aspects of popular culture as represented in mass media. His paintings have been shown in major exhibitions of Pop art in the U.S. and in Europe, and reproduced in books, catalogs, and periodicals throughout the world.

In 2009, Ramos was part of the first Portuguese American bilingual art book and exhibit in California "Ashes to Life a Portuguese American Story in Art" with fellow artists Nathan Oliveira, John Mattos and João de Brito.

Ramos has been represented by the Louis K. Meisel Gallery since 1971.

A major exhibition of his work was held at the Albertina in Vienna in 2011.


Ramos died of heart failure on October 14, 2018 at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mel Ramos" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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