American Pop artist Mel Ramos is known for his highly sexualized and smoothly provocative images that combine Playboy-style female nudes with icons of popular culture. Vintage toothpaste ads, candy bars, and cigars make the backdrop for Ramos’ languid portraits, which often incorporate features from popular female celebrities and movie stars, from Farah Fawcett to Scarlett Johansson. Works like Banana Split (2000) and Candy (Baby Ruth) (1981) have drawn intense condemnation from feminist critics, despite Ramos’ insistence that the works are the result of Surrealist-inspired “absurdist conjunctions.” In addition to his more controversial nudes, Ramos is also known for his comic-book inspired works that incorporate popular characters from stories such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Ramos has shown his work internationally and been featured in numerous museums, including the Whitney, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has also held teaching positions at California State University, Syracuse University, and the University of Wisconsin. In 1986 Ramos received a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Grant.