1950s America was a particularly buttoned up era. Social norms were strict, men and women strove to uphold the image of the perfect domestic world where father went to work everyday in order for mother to raise the children and keep house. Not far below the surface, America was in the midst of an upheaval. Kerouac and the Beat Generation were tearing across America, consuming drugs, sex and the out-there sounds of Bebop. Beginning in 1953 a magazine called Playboy was audaciously bringing this counter culture, complete with photographs of naked women, into the popular culture.
Moving into the 1960s what had been an underground movement came further and further into the light. Nowhere was this seismic shift more felt than in California whose beach culture of fun in the sun mixed effortlessly with the newfound freedom of individualism. Mel Ramos inhabited this neo-Bohemia and his favored subject, the female nude, was, in many regards, the embodiment of his times.
Painted in 1964 Saucey is one of the earliest and most successful examples of Ramos's most pure subject- sexual liberation. Unlike many of his paintings, Saucey does not depict a nude attached to a product but simply the woman. It is the pure distillation of the sexual revolution, the ultimate appropriation of American culture beyond its conspicuous consumption of products to that of the flesh.
Painted with luscious strokes that bring fellow Californian Wayne Thiebaud to mind, Saucey's flesh gushes sexuality. Her come-hither gaze and flowing golden locks are as solicitous as the Playboy cover which it appears to mimic, both in sentiment and scale. Ramos has created the perfect combination of passion and pure beauty that made Hugh Hefner's Playmates the envy of all men while effortlessly capturing the beat of a new generation.