Alfredo Ramos Martínez - Latin America New York Thursday, May 29, 2014 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Ms. Corinne Griffith (Mrs. George Marshall), Beverly Hills
    Gift from the above to the Pasadena Art Institute (now Pasadena Art Museum)
    Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Los Angeles
    Christie's, New York, Anon. Sale, December 1981, lot 33
    Bernard Lewin Collection, Palm Springs
    Private Collection
    Christie's, New York, Latin American Sale Evening Session, May 28, 2008, lot 19
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "In order to create true art we must inevitably look to our own native values." Alfredo Ramos Martínez

    La pareja en azul [The Couple in Blue], circa 1930, was painted while Alfredo Ramos Martínez was living in Los Angeles, California during the Depression-era. The narrative of the economic and cultural climate acts as the subtext of his view through the Mexican experience. With the gentle image of the The Couple in Blue, Ramos Martínez honors the couple in a compassionate depiction, uniting their contemplative gazes in the foreground with geometric mountains as their backdrop. With their dark eyes and luminous skin, the figures embody a balance adhering to a unity of form. There is a centered interplay between light and shadow, between the strong blues and blacks, and the luminosity that pervades the canvas. The landscape offers a delicate blend of a softer palette that seems to bring light from the ground. Similar to the cubism of Picasso and the spirited figures in Gauguin’s work, Ramos Martínez, uses masterly brushwork to elegantly evoke the simplified sorrowful figures, characterizing them as unforgotten and unforgettable. As in his other works such as The Loaders, circa 1932, which shows four impoverished day laborers heavily-burdened with boxes strapped to their backs, Ramos Martínez portrays the sensitivities of daily life as seen around him and his remembered Mexico.

    Born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1871, Alfredo Ramos Martínez arrived to Mexico City at the age of fourteen, after his portrait of the governor of the state of Nuevo León was awarded first prize at an art exhibition in San Antonio, Texas. The prize included a scholarship to study at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Initially, Ramos Martínez resented the rigidity of the academic program and the confinements of the environment. His observations of everyday experiences, along with the open spaces of the emerging urban landscape, conflicted with the immobile atmosphere he perceived in his studies. Ramos Martínez longed to go to Europe, specifically France, like many of his Latin American intellectual contemporaries. In France, he was sponsored by art enthusiast Phoebe Apperson Hearst, who funded his studies in Paris. There, Ramos Martínez was inspired by his friendship with Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío. Darío’s symbolic poetry would influence Ramos Martínez for the remainder of his life.

    Shortly after he returned to Mexico, he founded the Open Air School Project, which would later include instructors Rufino Tamayo and Jean Charlot. He was subsequently commissioned to paint murals in California, where he set up a permanent practice, occasionally returning to Mexico for work commitments.

    His compositions capture daily recollections of a sentimentalized rustic Mexico through palettes dominated by umbers, sepias, ice-blues, iron-grays and volcanic reds. His oeuvre deals less with overt political commentary and more with gentle imagery associated to the human experience. Celebrated as one of the leading figures in Mexican art history, Ramos Martínez’s body of work represents his national heritage filtered through the perspective of modernity.



La Pareja en azul

circa 1930
oil on board
18 1/8 x 24 in. (46 x 61 cm.)
Signed "Ramos Martínez" upper right.

$180,000 - 250,000 

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Head of Latin America Sale
+1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York Auction 29 May 2014 4pm