October 11, 2015


Back to Top

Lot 84: Alfredo Ramos Martinez

Lot 84: Alfredo Ramos Martinez

Floripondios (2)

c. 1938
Tempera and Conte crayon on illustration board
Each signed "Ramos Martinez"
Board each: 52.625" x 25.5"; Frame each: 63" x 35.5"
Louis Stern has confirmed the authenticity of these works. They will be included in the catalogue raisonné of works on paper, to be published by the Alfredo Ramos Martinez Research Project.
Provenance: The artist;
Private Collection, San Diego, California (acquired from the above);
Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above through Butterfield & Butterfield, Los Angeles, California, April 24, 1997, sale 6543, lot 5609)
Estimate: $150,000 - $200,000
Inventory Id: 20083

Have this work or something similar?

Email us today for a free, confidential
market evaluation from one of our specialists.


The painter and muralist Alfredo Ramos Martinez (1871–1946) was a prominent and influential figure in the early 20th century in both his native Mexico and his adopted home of Los Angeles. Following the Mexican Revolution, Ramos Martinez brought a fresh, modernizing spirit to the moribund art scene of his homeland, helping to foster the rich artistic awakening led by Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. As demonstrated by the 2014 exhibition Picturing Mexico: Alfredo Ramos Martinez in California held at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, his work manifests a moving and vivid expression of the Latino experience of the United States.

In Mexico he was respected as an artist and educator. Following his formal studies, Ramos Martinez spent nine years in Paris, where he moved in the same circles as Picasso, Monet, and Matisse. He returned home in 1910, and was named director of Mexico City's National School of Fine Arts in 1913. As director, he dismantled the school's doctrinaire academism by initiating a new program for teaching painting en plein air–outdoors, in the countryside–a method, loved by the Postimpressionists, he had enjoyed in France. Siqueiros, his student, would forever credit Ramos Martinez for providing the spark of vitality that kindled Mexican modernismo. Ramos Martinez moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1929, largely to find medical treatment and a healthier climate for his young daughter, who suffered from a congenital bone disease. In Los Angeles, Ramos Martinez was helped by friends and patrons such as the painter Millard Sheets and William Alanson Bryan, director of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art (which became the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), who gave the artist his first show in the city. During this time, Ramos Martinez developed a new artistic style–Gaugin-esque, with an angular, bold-edged Art Deco inflection. On canvas, paper, and murals, he offers an immigrant's view of Mexico–wistful, romantic, and at times, pained. Ramos Martinez succumbed to heart failure in 1946 when he was nearing completion of a mural (still extant) at Scripps College in Claremont.

Floripondios–the word translates as "large flowers"–are a recurring motif in Ramos Martinez's work. Known to English-speaking horticulturalists as "Angel's Trumpets," the flowers had a clear spiritual significance to a devout Catholic such as the artist. Moreover, the blossoms serve as a potent symbol of Mexican life and society. Floripondios and the six other species of the genus Brugmansia are native to tropical South America. They are deeply significant to indigenous cultures–used, variably, to make native medicines or a hallucinogen for shamanistic rituals, to induce visionary states of consciousness. Floripondios, will be included in the upcoming catalogue raisonné of works on paper, to be published by the Alfredo Ramos Martinez Research Project.

Chambers, Marie, Margarita Nieto, Louis Stern, and Gerard Vuilleumier. Alfredo Ramos Martinez & Modernismo. Los Angeles: Alfredo Ramos Martinez Research Project, 2009. Print. Karlstrom, Paul J. On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900–1950. Berkeley: University of California, 1996. Print.