Jeff KrammOakland, CA
I think of my work as a reaction to Robert Bechtle’s deadpan paintings of American cars and Mel Ramos’ luscious capitalistic babes -- a deadpan parody of heteronormative subject matter.
A photographic source serves as a quick sketch and is unposed and offhand if successful. I always feel like I don’t have the interest or energy to make ‘good’ or art photographs. I want to spend the time making the drawing or painting as close to what the person looks like as possible...to see how it all turns out, my homage to that particular person's existence.
I’m interested in realism and exploring its expressive possibilities for the human figure. I’m moved by the physical world around me, especially people, exactly as they look - the imperfections, the beauty, all in as much detail as possible. Through the expressive content of the work I hope to communicate a sense of humanism and the value I place on it.
I first started to work from the figure in the early 1960s when as a teenager I took several life drawing classes from Ralph Borge and Richard Gayton at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA. The decision to use the human figure in my work became more definite around 1970 influenced primarily by two artists, Mel Ramos and Robert Bechtle whose work mine is a reaction to. The fact that Mel Ramos used the nude in his work gave me permission to use it, and when I first saw Robert Bechtle’s painting "60 T-bird" at the Berkeley Art Museum I realized I could use photographs to obtain an overall level of comprehensive detail.
In the late 1960s when I was studying architecture at UC Berkeley I worked in a bookstore where posters of popular imagery, like the Haight-Ashbury street sign, sold for a dollar. I liked the idea of inexpensive prints anyone could use to decorate the space they lived in, and I started to design artwork with that in mind.
Over the years I have studied with and been influenced by a number of Bay Area artists including James Prestini, Harold Paris, William Garnett, Imogen Cunningham, Mel Ramos, Raymond Saunders, Kenjilo Nanao, Frank Lobdell, Jack Mendenhall, Mary Snowden, Jason Schoener, Arthur Okamura, Robert Bechtle, Jack Welpott, Cheri Raciti, Richard McLean, Seymour Locke, Robert Hudson, Barbara Rogers, John Roloff, Sam Tchakalian, Eleanor Dickinson, Ann Carter, Nance O'Banion, Chris Johnson, Linda Fleming, Larry Sultan, Mike Henderson, and Michele Pred.
My work is in the collection of the the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, the Oakland Museum of California, and private collections.