Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Mexican, 1871 - 1946 Florida Mexicana, ca. 1936

Alfredo Ramos Martínez ( 1871 - 1946)
Florida Mexicana
ca. 1936
Oil on canvas
Photography by Edward C. Robison III.
Early American Art Gallery

Description of Florida Mexicana

NARRATOR: The painting you are in front of is entitled Florida Mexicana and was made by the artist Alfredo Ramos Martínez in 1936 using oil on canvas. It is 36 inches tall by 30 inches wide and depicts an outdoor scene with a young indigenous Mexican woman offering a large bowl filled with vibrantly colored flowers. The painting is displayed in a plain, black, wooden double frame. The framed painting spans roughly from waist height to about a foot above the top of one’s head.

The background of the painting is a landscape, beginning at the top with a small strip of cornflower blue sky that touches the tops of mountain peaks, some gently rounded, some sharply pointed. Below the mountain peaks, the mid ground of the painting consists of rolling green hills accented with thin black slanted lines that form rows into the hillsides. Toward the foreground of the painting, angular, geometric forms that suggest rocks are positioned on each side of the woman in the center of the painting.

The woman is a young indigenous Mexican woman holding a large bowl filled with a variety of vibrantly colored flowers. Her skin is a deep tan color, with darker tan shadows highlighting her angular cheekbones. Her long, straight brown hair is parted close to the center of her head and hangs behind her back. Her face is composed of dark brown almond-shaped eyes, framed by prominent black brows. The slanted line of her brow leads us down to her angular nose. Below her nose are full, lush pink lips outlined with thin black lines. She is wearing a tangerine colored dress with a modest sweetheart neckline. The bodice of her dress is closed with one visible button on the right side. A thin black line down the center of the bodice disappears behind the large bowl of flowers she is holding, which completely eclipses the center of her body.

The golden-colored bowl is wide and shallow with a horizontal strip of pink flowers and green leaves decorating the center. An abundant assortment of pink, yellow, orange, white, and purplish flowers, all perfectly in bloom, fills the bowl, spilling over the front and sides. Curving around the underside of the bowl, we see the young woman’s hands holding the bowl, her fingertips overly blunted to form straight horizontal lines, matching the blunt angular lines forming many of her facial features but directly contrasting with the round lushness of the flowers.

As is typical in Ramos Martínez's work, the palette in this painting is mostly warm earth tones, which serve to reinforce a metaphorical connection between the indigenous subject and the land. Ramos Martínez moved to California in 1929 in order to seek medical treatment in the United States for his sickly daughter. During this time, he radically shifted the artistic style for which he was known in Mexico to a more art deco style. This style consisted of hard-edged ornamental lines, faceted geometric forms, a realistic yet severe figural style, joined together with hints of Cubism.

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