Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation: ICA LA

9 September - 31 December 2017

Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation is the first monographic presentation of the celebrated self-taught artist Martín Ramírez in Southern California. The exhibition will include approximately 50 drawings and collages produced by Ramírez while institutionalized from 1931 until his death in 1963. The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino Art in dialogue with Los Angeles.


Ramírez migrated to the United States in 1925 to seek work on the railroads. Following the Great Crash of 1929, Ramírez found himself unemployed and on the streets. Detained by police for vagrancy, and following a hasty diagnosis of schizophrenia by doctors who did not speak Spanish, Ramírez was interned in state psychiatric hospitals in Northern California for 30 years until his death in 1963.


Within these confines, Ramírez produced a body of remarkable drawings collaged from found paper and executed with matchsticks, melted crayons, and other makeshift implements. The resulting drawings range from small-scale abstractions to monumental figures and scrolls, which demonstrate Ramírez’s unique draftsmanship of concentric lines, undulating patterns, and surreal topography. This exhibition draws Ramírez into the critical orbit of art in California, where the crossover between Latin American art and American Modernism found its fullest realization.

Major support for the exhibition and related publication is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.