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Oakland Artists

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Coca Cola Girl

1972
20th Century
30 3/4 in. x 25 1/4 in. (78.11 cm x 64.14 cm)

Mel Ramos, American, (1935–2018)

Object Type: Works on Paper
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Lithograph on paper
Credit Line: Gift of the Artist and Martha Mackey
Accession Number: 1986.4
Mel Ramos was an American artist who spent most of his life living and working in the Bay Area. He first came to fame during the 1960s as part of the Pop Art movement. His work almost exclusively depicts one of two things: superheroes or naked women with food. Due to the hyper-sexualized nature of much of his work, Ramos has faced criticism in recent years. While there is no question about the objectification of his subjects, especially when one considers his comparison to food, Ramos’s subjects hold a surprising amount of power within his work. The woman depicted in Coca Cola Girl holds a direct stare at the viewer. The subject’s stare gives her great autonomy within the scene. It is important to note that the subject, while holding the viewer's attention, is a laboring body. Hyper-sexualization and the maintenance of beauty standards is a demanding and constant form of women’s labor. The subject in this has clearly put labor into her appearance: Her hair is neatly fashioned, she is wearing a good deal of make-up, and she is physically fit. In addition to the labor of maintaining beauty standards, the subject is also putting in the labor of performance. This is true both of the traditional performance of modeling and of the labor of constant male gaze. This along with directly addressing the viewer allows us to see the hidden labor of the subject in this historically questionable piece.

---O. O. Roberts, January 2022

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Dimensions
  • Image Dimensions: 27 1/2 in. x 20 1/2 in. (69.85 cm x 52.07 cm)
  • Sheet Dimensions: 30 3/4 x 25 1/4 in. (781.05 x 641.35 mm)

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