vienna

Mel Ramos, The Four Seasons, Autumn, 1982, oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 92 3/8". From the series “The Four Seasons,” 1982–84.

Mel Ramos

Albertina

Mel Ramos, The Four Seasons, Autumn, 1982, oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 92 3/8". From the series “The Four Seasons,” 1982–84.

Everybody knows Mel Ramos as the tits and ass man. But the disdain behind the association was recently repudiated by a retrospective, his largest to date, in honor of his seventy-fifth birthday. Of course his exhibition, titled “Girls, Candies and Comics,” featured buxom women on ketchup bottles and in martini glasses. It is the series “The Lost Paintings of 1965,” 1993–, “Hav-a-Havana,” 1996–, and “Animal Paintings,” 1964–71—all of which one might certainly consider somewhat perverse, with their locker-door goddesses lasciviously draping themselves on spark plugs, Havana cigars, or hippopotamuses—that have earned Melvin John Ramos, son of a race-car driver, the sexist reputation that has been such a liability for him. But today it may be easier to acknowledge the humor of these images about images, the absurdity of the compositions, and even, at times, their profundity.

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