Mel Ramos is just the kind of artist we like: irreverent, kitsch, big on talent and unconcerned with lofty notions of but what does it all mean? With Ramos, what you see is what you get. And what you get is cute, buck-naked girls, draped over the American all-star cast of vices – candy bars, bottles of soda, Havana cigars and even a giant cheeseburger oozing tomato sauce. Sorry, ketchup.

And couldn’t you just murder a burger right now? Or for that matter, a Tootsie roll, a tall glass of Coca Cola, and oh, a Vantage cigarette! Because nothing arouses the appetite like a buxom girl wearing nothing but a pair of kitten heels and a come-hither smile. And that’s the point really – sex sells, no matter whether it’s in art or advertising. And in Ramos’ case, the line is very pointedly blurred.

Along with contemporaries Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, file Mel Ramos under “Pop Art.” Hitting his stride in the 1960s, Ramos shared an interest in imagery lifted from popular culture and the mass media with other luminaries of the Pop Art movement. Like Warhol’s obsessive reproduction of Campbell’s Soup can, Ramos focused on commercial packaging and the glamorous tropes of the advertising industry, in all its slick and glossy glory.

Placing his pin-up girls next to oversized, branded products, Ramos rendered his subjects in the smooth, airbrushed style that would become popular in the 1980s. The result is a cheeky satire on American advertising, in which girls emerge lasciviously from Snickers wrappers, recline on hot dogs or are draped seductively over giant pieces of cheese.

Absurd? Yes. Erotic? Definitely. Mel Ramos, we salute you.

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