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Martin Ramirez on a stamp

Mexican-American artist Martín Ramírez (1895–1963) is being honored this month by the United States Postal Service (USPS). On Thursday, March 26th, the agency released a set of 5 commemorative “Martin Ramirez” Forever stamps featuring the unique outsider art of this twentieth century master. This marks the the first time a Mexican-American artist and an outsider artist has been featured on a USPS Stamp.

Ramirez-Forever-Pane-Singles-BGv1Ramírez is widely known as one of the preeminent self-taught masters of the twentieth-century. Born in Mexico in 1895, he relocated to the United States in 1925 where he spent the majority of his life in Auburn, California at the Dewitt State Hospital. During his stay and until his death in 1963, he discovered art and created the complex and compelling drawings and collages for which he is known.

“Our choice of Martin Ramírez as the subject of a Forever stamp sheet reflects the widespread — and growing — influence he has had on art in the United States, as well as on artists throughout the world,” said U.S. Postal Service Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Joseph Corbett

Over the course of Ramírez’s life, he produced some five hundred artworks that are characterized by their clean yet brazen draftsmanship. The imagery is both suggestive and nostalgic, often reminiscent of his own life experiences. Mexican Madonnas, animals, cowboys, trains, and landscapes merge with scenes of American culture and create a profound documentation of a Mexican living and working in the United States. Later in his life, he began creating collage type forms taking newspaper clippings and previous drawings for additional depth and texture.

ramirez gallery viewEarly on, Ramírez’s talents were recognized in small exhibitions as early as the 1950s. Today his work has been the subject of numerous museum shows, including the retrospective “Martín Ramírez: Pintor Mexicano,” at the Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, in 1989, and two major exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, NYC: a traveling retrospective titled “Martín Ramírez” in 2007, and “Martín Ramírez: The Last Works” in 2009. In 2010, the 20th century master was the subject of a comprehensive exhibition curated by Brooke Davis Anderson at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reína Sofía, in Madrid, titled “Martín Ramírez: Reframing Confinement.”

In conjunction with the release of the stamps from the USPS this week, the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York is displaying nineteen Ramirez works in an exhibition titled Martin Ramirez: Forever. The exhibition will run through May 2nd, 2015.

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