Jose Ramon Lerma, (1930-2016) Untitled (abstract), oil on masonite board, 30 x 26 inches, bearing the artist name “Jose Ramon Lerma” on the stretcher bars, c. 1958.
Jose Ramon Lerma was born in the Salinas Valley (Hollister, CA) and attended the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) beginning in 1950, ultimately graduating in 1958, during which time he studied painting with Elmer Bischoff, color and composition with Jean Varda, drawing with Hassel Smith and Nathan Oliviera, and aesthetics with David Park. From 1951 to 1953 he interrupted his studies to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Classmates included Joan Brown, Manuel Neri, Alvin Light and William T. Wiley, among others.
Lerma had solo shows exhibiting his abstract expressionist paintings during the 1950s and early 1960s at the Spatsa Gallery, East-West Gallery, The Cellar, and the Russian Hill Gallery.
Lerma later worked in assemblage, mixed media constructions, collage, and acrylic painting.
Lerma’s work has been included in countless group exhibitions. Retrospectives of his work were held at Intersection for the Arts and ArtZone 461 in San Francisco, CA.
His work is part of the permanent museum collections of the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, CA; and Mexican Museum, San Francisco, CA, among other institutions. In 2004 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors honored Lerma with a resolution acknowledging his contribution to the arts.
This painting comes from a private collection that includes other works by Lerma and is unmistakably by him, although it lacks a signature.
This is an important painting from an exciting period in West Coast art. It is uncommon to see Lerma’s abstract paintings from the 1950s, particularly this size, offered for sale or at auction.
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