- Mel Ramos
- Polka Dotty
- signed, titled and dated 1966 on the reverse
- oil on canvas and masonite
Milton Coleman Fine Arts, New York
Sotheby's, New York, March 24, 1978, Lot 125
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
Donald Kuspit and Louis K. Meisel, Mel Ramos: Pop Art Fantasies, The Complete Paintings, New York, 2004, p. 124, illustrated in color
Emerging from a startling tangerine backdrop, Mel Ramos's glamorous Polka Dotty is an iconic image embodying the artist's vision of sixties Pop Art. His alluring brunette model gazes out at the viewer from under her long eyelashes, draped in an ambiguous cloth or bedroom sheet adorned with pink and blue polka dots. Though primarily a figurative painter, Ramos has experimented with realist and abstract art at intervals throughout his career. Several of his works reveal an attempt to incorporate both methods, and in Polka Dotty a planar, abstracted background of solid, uninterrupted color is combined with a highly realist portrait of a woman. This amalgamation works to enhance the detail and feature of each style while detracting from the duality of the image making it wholly singular. Ramos further employs the element of masonite in Polka Dotty, which is crafted to create a shallow three-dimensional effect of her cloak only and protrudes off of the canvas. The polka dots, therefore, are emphasized to a greater extent and inspire his amusing title, Polka Dotty.
Born in Sacramento, California in 1935, Ramos has achieved much success and is one of the leading exponents of American Pop Art. His works are adventurous with a sense of humor, while revealing great technical skill and creative innovation. Along with fellow artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and James Rosenquist, Ramos created art which exploited and celebrated aspects of popular culture as represented in mass media. Working with imagery garnered from popular culture and the mass media Ramos' works combine nude pin-up girls from American magazines and advertisements of branded products. The result is his highly sexualized, polished and glossy images of women who are unidentifiable models as if reproduced directly off the pages of a fashion magazine.
Following Ramos's solo exhibition in 1964 at Bianchini Gallery in New York, writer and art critic Robert Rosenblum remarked, "I stumbled into the Bianchini Gallery one day and saw for the first time paintings by Mel Ramos. I was instantly delighted by this surge of what looked like yet another new kind of insolent vulgarity that might thoroughly dispose of the lofty moral pretensions and ivory-tower elitism of so much New York painting of the 50s... I couldn't help feeling that Ramos' paintings were from another planet".