Mel Ramos' unmistakable paintings are almost a perfect portrayal of the second half of the 20th century: commercialisation, sexualisation and provocation. The Californian artist was one of many important figures in the pop art movement of the 1960s, distinguished from his contemporaries in his pin-up influences taken from previous decades. His early work was more conservative with a sense of boyish naivety and charm, recreating superheroes from comic books. To create his signature nude pop-art portrait, Ramos looked to other contemporary print media; the nude female derived from images in Playboy, whilst the oversized consumer products were extracted from the adverts amongst magazine pages. Female stars from Marilyn Monroe to Scarlett Johansson have been the subject of Ramos' work - which, unsurprisingly, has caused much controversy. Ramos remains an extremely successful artist today in his 80s, continuing to paint his infamous nude females and requested commissions.
In the 1960's in America, a new art form was emerging which both mesmerised and perplexed audiences. Hyperrealism and the Hyperrealism school of art focused on creating sculptures, frequently of nudes, that were so much so close to life that it was unsettling to the viewer.
Erotic art holds an uneasy place in the art world. In art museums, serene galleries featuring graphic depictions of exposed genitalia and copulating couples are cordoned off by signage alerting the faint of heart to the steamy scenes lying ahead. Even on a web page preceding ''Erotic Art Online,'' the digital companion to Sotheby's ''Erotic: Passion and Desire'' sale on 15th February, 2018, the esteemed London auction house posts the following warning: ''Please be advised that this sale includes images of nudity and images of a sexual nature which some viewers may consider indecent.''