Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fun and Funky Sweets


Mel Ramos (born Sacramento,CA, 1935) Candy, 1981 (lithograph)
In 1954, Ramos was studying under Wayne Thiebaud whose food paintings today are widely known (see below). Ramos went through a number of stages of doing comic book illustration and Pop Art. About 1960, he turns his efforts to depiction of a single curvaceous female figure, slightly erotic but with a trace of humor. Tie-ins to food are frequent since eating and sexual stimulation seem historically linked. Ramos' works were styled to some extent on the 1940s Varga Girl, a pin-up then featured in Esquire magazine. Alberto Varga, a Peruvian immigrant, had taken his inspiration from La Vie Parisienne, a French magazine with sexually explicit cover illustrations.
Ramos' work was published in magazines and on calendars. He was funded by Hollywood and even worked into food labels. Eventually, of course, his females were displayed in Hugh Heffner's Playboy.

Robert Carston Arneson (Benicia, CA 1930-1992) Oreo Kookies
It is said that Arneson brought ceramics into the realm of fine arts almost singlehandedly. He made dozens of figures, including self-portraits but very few food subjects. One exception is his ceramic Six Pack, 16 Oz, 1964. He taught ceramics at UC-Davis 1962-1991.











Raimonds Staprans (born Riga, Latvia, 1926) Too Many
Unruly Oranges
, 1998.
Staprans lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work is handled by the Hackett-Freeman Gallery on Sutter Street, and I visit there whenever I'm in town.
One of my favorite painters, Staprans is partial to orange as shown in his many studies of furniture and still life, and even a ship. His landscapes and building studies are precise, revealing his long study of draughting. His sharp depiction of light on buildings reveal possible influence from Edward Hopper.


William Wegman (born Massachusetts, 1943) Hot Fudge, 1994
Wegman is as famous for his portraits of his Weimaraner dogs in various, seemingly impossible costumes and poses. Dogs have been named ray, then fay ray (after the 1930s actress), and man ray (after the American Surrealist artist), and so on. Wegman's dogs first appeared on Sesame Street in 1989 and in 1992 appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.


But as everyone knows, chocolate is not appropriate food for dogs.

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