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Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation

ICA LA (Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)

Martín Ramírez, Untitled (Horse and Rider with Frieze), n.d. Gouache, colored pencil, and graphite on pieced paper. 34 x 24 in. (86.4 x 61 cm). Collection of Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson. © The Estate of Martín Ramírez and Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York. Photograph by Tom Van Eynde.

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The first monographic presentation of self-taught artist Martín Ramírez in Southern California features approximately 50 remarkable drawings collaged from found paper and executed with matchsticks, melted crayons, and other makeshift implements.

ICA LA will examine the work of acclaimed outsider artist, Mexican-born immigrant Martín Ramírez, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1930s and confined to California state hospitals most of his adult life. During the three decades he spent institutionalized, Ramírez produced a monumental body of work consisting of intricate drawings and collages whose linear rhythm and spatial tension have been compared to the techniques of Wassily Kandinsky, Frank Stella, and Sol LeWitt. His subject matter included horses and riders, Madonnas, saints, trains, and tunnels. This first presentation of Ramírez's work in Southern California will focus on the artist’s iconography and mark-making, his formal connections to mainstream modern art, and the significance of his cultural identity as a Mexican-American. It will also present, for the first time, a 17-foot scroll that comprises a glossary of the artist’s singular imagery and a complete visual narrative of his journey from Mexico to California in the 1920s. Recent examinations of Ramírez’s psychiatric evaluations have called his diagnosis into question, allowing an opportunity to recontextualize his life and work and navigate the unsettled territory between outsider and mainstream art.

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September 09, 2017 - December 31, 2017


Downtown & East LA




Mixed Media, Prints & Drawing