“Never hit on the model”
|June 25, 2011|
Pepsi Cola, Mel Ramos, 2005
From The Talks:
Pablo Picasso once said “the chief enemy of creativity is good taste.” Would you agree with that?
(Laughs) Picasso is so full of shit. He was a nasty guy; he really screwed over a lot of his friends. He did some mean things to them. I suppose it’s sometimes true but not always. I’m not sure what good taste means – it changes from one person to the next. Somebody likes something that someone else doesn’t like.
What is good taste to you?
I have my own concept of good taste. When I do my paintings I’m not trying to make any confrontational image, something that will piss someone off on purpose. I’m not into doing that. Picasso did a lot of erotic drawings, pornographic drawings some would call them. So have I, but I did them for fun and to trade with my artist friends. I’m not trying to make somebody angry by being too obvious, too blatant, and too available.
Your paintings are based on images of beautiful naked women and you’re not trying to provoke in any sort of way?
Not at all.
I remember the painting where a naked woman lays on the floor with an anteater facing her behind. Some people would find that a provocative image…
But there’s no context.
Ant Eater, Mel Ramos, 1968
Sure, but it paints quite the picture…
I just stopped short of making more than that and that’s my idea of good taste. If the anteater had its snout up somebody’s you-know-what, that’s not good taste. I’ve done that in drawings but not as pornographic paintings. I draw porn just for my friends to see if we can ‘out-gross’ each other.
What is the most beautiful thing about nude women?
Everything. It has to do with the concept of naturalness: that’s the way you came in and that should be the way you go out.
What part of the female body is the most important for your paintings?
The face. I always do the face first. If that doesn’t work then nothing works. Another good piece of advice is to never hit on the model. It will really piss off your wife if you do. (Laughs)
7-Up, Mel Ramos, 1967
Make any cento you want! But try to make it as good as you want it to be. You don’t really want Seidel’s freedom. His poems are licensed by privilege, prestige and money — lots of all three. His deliberate transgressions look like power — to poets, any use of power looks like freedom. But I just read all Seidel’s work, straight through, and I think he’s wearing golden handcuffs.
Pale Youths in Love
I remember when I was a pre-teen and they moved into a loft across the street from me in Tribeca, where I lived. And an older neighbor friend told me they were living in her building, on the top floor. I saw him at my corner deli, and on the street smoking, but never her. At night, I sometimes looked up at their windows and saw their lights on. He was not very impressive in person. Cute, but no big deal.
What is Work?
Without a written record, we cannot know with certainty how the earliest humans thought about work, but the importance of sharing food and other resources means that prehistoric work embodied at least an element of serving the needs of a community rather than just those of an individual and his or her immediate family.
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