MEL RAMOS (1935-2018) Ali McGraw, 1970

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Lot 35
MEL RAMOS
(1935-2018)
Ali McGraw, 1970

Sold for US$ 47,812 inc. premium
MEL RAMOS (1935-2018)
Ali McGraw, 1970

signed, titled and dated twice '"Ali McGraw" 1970 Mel Ramos 70' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas

20 x 14 1/2 in.
50.8 x 36.8 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    David King, San Francisco
    Private collection (acquired from the above, circa 1970)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner


    Born in 1935 in Sacramento, California, Mel Ramos remained in California for the span of his career. "Mel Ramos brings a carnival spirit from California...The designs are dramatic, the colors jazzy and exciting. As a painter, Ramos is no playboy, and like Wayne Thiebaud, with whom he has studied, his realism is tough, gutsy, never academic," critic Elisabeth Stevens wrote of the artist in ARTnews in 1964.

    Known for experimenting with Pop imagery, advertising aesthetics and the female form, some of Ramos's most recognizable subject matter has been partially or fully nude women posed suggestively with consumer products against monochromatic backgrounds. It is his male and female superhero figures from the early 1960s that are more often fully clothed. Ramos has long incorporated Hollywood stars and celebrities into his paintings, transforming actresses into comic heroines and cheeky peek-o-boo girls. Marilyn Monroe and Pamela Anderson are just two of the starlets he posed as pinups in his paintings. Combining various source images and influences into a single composition became characteristic of Ramos' approach that increasingly combined reality and fiction, art and life.

    The present lot is a portrait of the American actress Ali MacGraw, painted when she was first gaining notice in pop culture for her role in Goodbye, Columbus (1969) for which she won the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. It was Love Story in 1970, though, that skyrocketed her to international stardom along with a nomination for the Best Actress Academy Award. The source material behind Ali McGraw comes from a headshot of the actress used in the promotion of Love Story. Dressed in a floral top and matching choker, the young starlet smiles softly at the camera, perhaps a nod to the sweet and romantic role with which she was so closely associated. Ramos painted his version of the young actress as a more subdued version of his pinups, based on an image that was very much a part of the zeitgeist. The same photograph was used as inspiration for MacGraw's portrait on the cover of Time Magazine in 1971.

    Ramos' paintings are in numerous permanent collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, amongst others.
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