Exposition Art Blog: Rufino Tamayo

Rufino Tamayo


 Rufino Tamayo was a Mexican painter and printmaker known for his large-scale murals and vivid use of color. Like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, Tamayo attracted international attention for Mexican art. Influenced by Modern movements such as Cubism, Surrealism, and Expressionism, Tamayo wove his country’s native motifs into his painting with a signature figurative style. Born on August 26, 1899 in Oaxaca, Mexico, Tamayo left the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts after a year and began to teach himself. He moved to New York in the 1930s after a falling out with the politically activist artists he knew at home. Tamayo’s work has been exhibited worldwide in museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Naples Museum of Art in Naples, The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The artist would eventually return to his home country in 1959, where he died on June 24, 1991 in Mexico City, Mexico at the age of 91. In 1981, he founded the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, which houses his Modern Art collection, and the Museo Rufino Tamayo in his birthplace of Oaxaca for his extensive pre-Columbian collection.(.artnet)
Tamayo's method situates his composition as the focal point instead of emphasizing the subject alone. By doing so, looks at the painting as a whole. He explained his approach to Paul Westheim as follows: “As the number of colors we use decreases, the wealth of possibilities increases". Tamayo favored using few colors rather than many; he asserted that fewer colors in a painting gave the art greater force and meaning. Tamayo’s unique color choices are evident in the painting Tres personajes cantando (Three singers), 1981. In this painting, Tamayo employs pure colors such as red and purple; his restraint in the choice of color here confirms his belief that fewer colors, far from limiting the painting, actually enlarge the composition's possibilities. With that being said, Octavio Paz, author of the book Rufino Tamayo, argues that, “Time and again we have been told that Tamayo is a great colourist; but it should be added that this richness of colour is the result of sobriety". By being pure or, as Paz explained, sober with his color choice, Tamayo's paintings were enriched, not impoverished.
“     "If I could express with a single word what it is that distinguishes Tamayo from other painters, I would say without a moment's hesitation: Sun. For the sun is in all his pictures, whether we see it or not." - Nobel Prize-winning poet Octavio Paz. (Wikipedia)





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