Project Description

Martín Ramírez

March 26 – May 2, 2015

Martín Ramírez is widely known as one of the preeminent self-taught masters of the twentieth-century. Born in Mexico in 1895, he relocated to the United States in 1925 where he spent the majority of his life in Auburn, California at the Dewitt State Hospital. During his stay and until his death in 1963, he discovered art and created the complex and compelling drawings and collages for which he is known.

Over the course of Ramírez’s life, he produced some five hundred artworks that are characterized by 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 forms taking newspaper clippings and previous drawings for additional depth and texture.

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 Contemporaneo, Mexico City, in 1989, and two major exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, NYC: a traveling retrospective titled “Martín Ramírez” in 2007, and “Martín Ramírez: The Last Works” in 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.”

Martin Ramirez: Forever is a celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Ramirez. The exhibition is being held in conjunction with the United States Postal Service and the release of a set of 5 commemorative “Martin Ramirez” Forever stamps. This momentous occasion is the first time an Outsider artist and Mexican-American artist has been featured on a USPS Stamp- a testament to the public’s growing appreciation for the field of Outsider art.

This exhibition and stamp release has been featured by Forbes, Artnet, New York Times,
Hyperallergic, Architectural Digest, ArtNews, New York Observer, NY1, NPR and Studio International.