Los Angeles

Mel Ramos

David Stuart Gallery

If anything, Mel Ramos’s women of 1967 are even more luscious, more unabashedly coy, and more perfectly composed than ever. They are not, however, quite so campy. Ramos has sacrificed a certain amount of his 1950-ish California kitsch for the sake of staying abreast of last year’s commercial sex-symbolism as opposed to last decade’s.

The main body of his new relief paintings shown at the David Stuart Gallery are about as chic as well-filled out females can be these days. Pucci Pants is a direct mockery of the ubiquitous angular postures of contemporary fashion models; against a lush yellow rectangle, on which is painted a lush yellow-haired face, the artist has appended in relief a black and white Pucci body with legs splayed elegantly apart, ending at the bottom of the pants. In The White Hood, Ramos has achieved the art director’s dream in the most harmonious, satiating, classic composition that any agency man could possibly hope for. All this and a chaste all-American girl robed in creamy white too. Her unblemished face and half-bared bosom are agonizingly fresh and frank among her ascetic garments.

There are three Coca-Cola girls in classic pin-up poses; these are a partial throw-back to Ramos’s earlier brand-name nudes, but, particularly in the two triangular ones, there is a new geometric approach to layout which, combined with an unfortunate use of heliotrope, renders them just a shade unhealthier than the sponsor might have envisioned.

Jane Livingston