MARTÍN RAMÍREZ ESTATE 2017-11-17T21:47:03+00:00

Project Description

[click on images to enlarge.}

Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Martín Ramírez is widely known as one of the preeminent self-taught masters of the 20th Century. Thrust by political and religious upheavals caused by the Mexican Revolution and seeking to support his family, Ramírez relocated to the United States in 1925. He worked as an impoverished immigrant in the California mines and railroads until he was picked up by police in 1931—reportedly in a disoriented state. Ramírez was eventually declared schizophrenic (with previous diagnoses of manic-depression and catatonic dementia praecox). He was committed first at Stockton State Hospital and then at the DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, where he spent the rest of his life. It was there where he discovered art and created the complex and compelling drawings and collages for which he is known.

Over the course of his life, Ramírez produced some 500 works characteristic for their clean yet brazen draftsmanship. The imagery is both suggestive and nostalgic, often reminiscent of his own life experiences. Mexican Madonnas, animals, cowboys, trains, and landscapes merge with scenes of American culture and create a profound documentation of a Mexican living and working in the United States. Compositionally, he renders space into multi-dimensional almost theatrical layouts using sharp geometric forms with strong linear qualities. He framed his drawings with sweeping lines that bring attention to centralized forms. The artist worked primarily in crayon and had a firm grasp of perspective and mark-making techniques consisting of rhythmic repetition and gentle shading. Later in his life, he began creating collage-type works, adding newspaper clippings and previous drawings for depth and texture.

Ramírez’s technical skill, stylistic evolution, and thematic coherence led Roberta Smith of the New York Times to call him “simply one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.” Early on, Ramírez’s talents were recognized in small exhibitions as early as the 1950s. Today his work has been the subject of numerous museum shows, including the retrospective “Martín Ramírez: Pintor Mexicano,” at the Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City (1989), and two major exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, NYC: a traveling retrospective titled “Martín Ramírez” (2007) and “Martín Ramírez: The Last Works” (2009). In 2010, the 20th century master was the subject of a comprehensive exhibition curated by Brooke Davis Anderson at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reína Sofía in Madrid, titled “Martín Ramírez: Reframing Confinement.” In 2015, the United States Postal Service released a set of 5 commemorative “Martin Ramirez” Forever stamps, which marked the first time an Outsider artist and Mexican-American artist was featured on a USPS Stamp

The estate of Martín Ramírez is represented exclusively by the Ricco/Maresca Gallery since 2008.


BLOUIN ARTINFO by Zandie Brockett
Los Angeles Confidential by Gabé Hirschowitz
Los Angeles Times by Deborah Vankin
Los Angeles Times by Los Angles Times Staff
LA Weekly by Catherine Wagley
The New York Times by Will Heinrich
Hyperallergic by Matt Stromberg
Los Angeles Times by Christopher Knight
Los Angeles Times by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
Time Out Los Angeles by Rozette R
Fluence by Alejandra Russi
NPR, “Art Retrospective Recognizes ‘Schizophrenic’ Genius” by Jon Kalish
NPR, “New Postage Stamps Recognize the Genius of Martín Ramírez”  by Jon Kalish
NPR, “Ramírez Heirs Seek To Reclaim Artist’s Lost Work”  by Jon Kalish
Martin Ramirez, Milwaukee Art Museum
The Washington Post by Philip Kennicott
Time Out New York by Anne Doran
The New York Times gallery listings
Art in America by Richard Kalina
Folk Art by Brooke Davis Anderson
Fluence by Elenore Weber
The Boston Globe by Cate McQuaid
The Week
The New York Times by Karen Rosenberg
The Economist
NPR, All Things Considered  by Jon Kalish
New York Observer  by Mario Naves
The New York Times by Randy Kennedy
Los Angeles Times by Brooke D. Anderson
The New York Times by Roberta Smith
New Yorker  by Peter Schjeldahl
The New York Times by Kathryn Shattuck


Forever, 2015
Landscapes, 2011


Marking Time by Charles Gross
Reframing Confinement, Museo Reina Sofia
The Last Works by James Kalm
CBS Sunday Morning


Martin Ramirez: The Last Works
Martin Ramirez: Reframing Confinement