New York

Martin Ramirez

Phyllis Kind Gallery

The Mexican “outsider” artist Martin Ramirez (1885–1960) was found homeless in Los Angeles’ Pershing Square in 1930. He was committed to a state mental hospital, where he was diagnosed as incurably psychotic; reportedly silent for the rest of his life, Ramirez attempted to communicate by making cryptic pictures, often on odd hits of paper glued together, using Crayolas and colored pencils. These “outsider” images have come to be regarded as major art, celebrated for their mastery of space and Jungian depth. One could understand this exhibition of Ramirez’s drawings as either an implicit recognition of the absolute power and necessity of the unconscious in making art, or another example of the ongoing process of the commodification of every and any kind of consciousness, including that of various kinds of outsiders. No doubt it was both.

Was Ramirez a major artist? Is the terrible banality

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.