Amidst political and religious upheaval, Martín Ramírez left his native Jalisco, Mexico for America in 1925. Seeking to support his family and struggling ranch, he labored as an impoverished immigrant until he was picked up by police in California in 1931, reportedly in a disoriented state. By 1932, Ramírez was declared schizophrenic (with varying diagnoses of catatonic, manic-depressive and paranoid amending that). He was committed first at Stockton State Hospital and eventually at DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, California. During this internment and until his death in 1963, Ramírez’s fantastic drawings, formerly only found in the margins of his letters home, ranged up in scale.
Some of Martín Ramírez’s large paneled pieces stretch to nineteen feet. These drawings were all completed from within the walls of hospitals, on the floor underneath a table, and often on paper the artist carefully pieced together himself. With rhythmic repetition of line and gentle shading, Ramírez created imaginary landscapes populated by the real images of his past: the caballeros, Madonnas and animals of his Mexican heritage and the trains that carried him to permanent exile in America. His technical skill, stylistic evolution, and thematic coherence led Roberta Smith of the New York Times to call Ramírez “…simply one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.” see more…
Time Out NY article by Anne Doran (November 2011).
New York Times gallery listings (November 2011)
Art in America article by Richard Kalina (October 2007)
Folk Art article by Brooke Davis Anderson (Fall 2008)
London Review of Books, article on outsider art by Terry Castle (7/28/11)
Fluence magazine article by Elenore Weber, March/April 2010
The Boston Globe ”Creating Worlds All Their Own” by Cate McQuaid (04/15/09)
The Week ”Where to Buy…Martin Ramirez” (11/21/08)