We are grateful to María Ramos Martínez Bolster, Margarita Nieto and Louis Stern for their assistance in confirming the authenticity of this work. It will be included in their forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's paintings to be published by the Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project.
Alfredo Ramos Martínez celebration of mexicanidad played out in his adoptive home of Los Angeles in the midst of the artistic flourishing of the Art Deco movement in the early 1930s as the artist found inspiration in the homeland he left behind. His most creative period would shortly begin as his career thrived both critically and commercially in California. In his newly adopted city, Ramos Martínez would become a highly successful artist. His commissions both private and public were plentiful and his work was shown in many exhibitions including one at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco only three short years after his arrival. These accolades would gain for him a coterie of avid collectors and critics who saw in this Mexican modernist a man who both celebrated his roots but was engaged with the language of the avant-garde. Among the long list of Hollywood patrons was the glamorous movie star Corinne Griffith who owned this painting during the 1930s.
La pareja en azul, although a figurative composition of a young Indian woman and man is cubist in structure and exhibits modern tendencies the artist had certainly become familiar with during his long residence in the European continent. His palette, although seemingly austere, shares affinities not with the somber greys and browns of analytical cubism but with the colors of Paul Gauguin and the work of the fauves whom he admired and studied during his visits to Brittany. Symbolically the blue reflects the couple's loyalty to one another but poignantly expresses their solitude--perhaps they are workers or campesinos away from home and have only each other. They resemble one another and their posturing is one of humility but nevertheless, also of strength and endurance. Ramos Martínez almost abstract rendering of the two figures eliminates all extraneous elements that would detract from the pathos we as viewers instantly feel-we are moved by color and shape. This work is stylistically linked to his other casamiento compositions such as Casamiento indio, circa 1931, (sold at Christie's Latin American Sale, November 2007, lot 30) but it is startlingly unique within the artist's oeuvre.
His modern and geometric figures--slender yet monumental, are expressions of an artist thoroughly immersed with his times and ideas. The artist's admiration for pre-Columbian culture is amply manifested in the magnificent trajectory he developed during his years in California. Although yearning for his native home of Mexico, Ramos Martínez interpreted and depicted his subjects in a bold and inventive language unlike anything he had done before, in paintings, works on newsprint, and in frescoes that still stand today such as his timeless murals at the Santa Barbara Memorial Chapel and those at Scripps College. Ultimately, they serve as his most public and timeless artistic legacy.
As one of the founders of a modernist aesthetic, Ramos Martínez, dramatically altered the teaching of art by establishing plein air schools under his mandate as Director of the Academy of San Carlos upon his return to Mexico from a long European stay. His students included David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jean Charlot and so influential were his revolutionary methods, that the French Minister of Fine Arts invited him to set up similar schools in Brittany shortly after learning of their success in Mexico. However, it is Ramos Martínez's artistic talents--his vibrant colors, and powerful yet graceful compositions, that confirm his status as one of the most eminent Mexican artist working outside Mexico in the early 1930s.