Mel Ramos

Melvin John Ramos (July 24, 1935 – October 14, 2018) was an American figurative painter, specializing most often in paintings of female nudes, whose work incorporates elements of realist and abstract art.

Mel Ramos
Mel Ramos 2007.JPG
Mel Ramos 2007
Born(1935-07-24)July 24, 1935
DiedOctober 14, 2018(2018-10-14) (aged 83)
NationalityUnited States
EducationSacramento State College, M.A., 1958[1]
Known forPainting, Drawing, figurative painter
MovementPop art
AwardsNational Endowment for the Arts – Visual Artist's Fellowship Grant, 1986[1]

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. 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".[2] He was also a university art professor.


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 remained his friend. Ramos received his B.A. and his M.A. from Sacramento State College, finishing his education in 1958.[1] From 1958–1966, 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 (1966–1997) at California State University, East Bay, in Hayward, California, and then served as Professor Emeritus. He was Artist in Residence at Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin.[1]


Ramos married Leta (Helmers) Ramos in 1955, who was the model for many of his early nude paintings.[1]

Art careerEdit

Mel Ramos – Exhibition in Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 2012

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.[1] 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 was represented by the Louis K. Meisel Gallery since 1971. He has also been represented for many years by San Francisco's Modernism gallery and Galerie Ernst Hilger, Austria.

A major exhibition of his work was held at the Albertina in Vienna in 2011.[3][4]

A retrospective of over 50 years of his work opened at the Crocker Art Museum in his hometown of Sacramento on June 2, 2012.[1][2] This show is "the first major exhibition of his work in his hometown", and his first American retrospective in 35 years.[5]


Ramos died of heart failure on October 14, 2018 at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Shields, Scott A.; Johnathon Keats; Diana L. Daniels (2012). Mel Ramos: 50 Years of Superheroes, Nudes, and Other Pop Delights. San Francisco: Modernism, Inc. ISBN 978-09830673-2-0.
  2. ^ a b Dalkey, Victoria (June 3, 2012). "Mel Ramos retrospective at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum". Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on June 22, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Mel Ramos: Girls, Candies & Comics". Albertina, Vienna. 2011. Archived from the original on November 20, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Letze, Otto; Klaus Honnef; illustrated by Mel Ramos (2010). Mel Ramos: 50 Years of Pop Art. Berlin: Hatje Cantz. ISBN 9783775725316.
  5. ^ "Crocker Art Museum presents first hometown survey for internationally acclaimed artist Mel Ramos". ArtDaily. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Desmarais, Charles (October 15, 2018). "Pop artist Mel Ramos dies at 83". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 15, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit