Tamayo, Rufino

Tamayo, Rufino
born Aug. 26, 1899/1900, Oaxaca, Mex.
died June 24, 1991, Mexico City

Mexican painter and graphic artist.

He studied at Mexico City's School of Fine Arts and then taught at the National Museum of Archaeology (1921–26). He preferred easel painting to the monumental proportions and political rhetoric of José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. His distinctive style blended Cubism and Surrealism with Mexican folk-art subjects involving semiabstract figures, still lifes, and animals in vibrant colours. From 1936 he lived principally in New York City. In 1950 an exhibition at the Venice Biennale brought him international recognition. He designed murals for Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts (1952–53) and UNESCO's Paris headquarters (1958). In 1974 he donated his collection of pre-Hispanic art to his native Oaxaca.

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▪ Mexican artist
in full  Rufino Arellanes Tamayo 
born August 26, 1899, Oaxaca, Mexico
died June 24, 1991, Mexico City
 Mexican painter who combined modern European painting styles with Mexican folk themes.

      Tamayo attended the School of Fine Arts in Mexico City from 1917 to 1921, but he was dissatisfied with the traditional art program and thereafter studied independently. He became head of the department of ethnographic drawing at the National Museum of Archaeology (1921–26) in Mexico City, where he developed an interest in pre-Columbian art.

      Tamayo spent many years of his career in New York City, first settling there from 1926 to 1928. He retained his ties to Mexico and returned there often, but the modern art he encountered in New York—especially the paintings of European artists Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque (Braque, Georges), and Henri Matisse—profoundly influenced his work. Tamayo reacted against the epic proportions and political rhetoric of the paintings of the Mexican muralists, who had dominated the country's art production since the Mexican Revolution. Instead, he chose to address formal and aesthetic issues in easel paintings, fusing European styles such as Cubism and Surrealism with subject matter that often involved Mexican culture.

      By the 1930s Tamayo had become a well-known figure in the Mexican art scene. He lived in New York again from 1936 to 1950. During this period the various styles of his paintings ranged from the stolid figures in Women of Tehuantepec (1939) to the expressive violence of the barking mongrels in Animals (1941). He often used vibrant colours and textured surfaces to depict his subjects in symbolic, stylized, or semiabstract modes.

 Tamayo exhibited his paintings at the Venice Biennale in 1950, and the success of his work there led to international recognition. He went on to design murals for the National Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City (Birth of Nationality and Mexico Today, both 1952–53) and for UNESCO in Paris (Prometheus Bringing Fire to Man, 1958). Tamayo was a prolific printmaker, and he also experimented with bronze and iron sculpture.

      After living in Paris from 1957 to 1964, Tamayo settled in Mexico. In 1974 he donated his large collection of pre-Columbian art to the city of Oaxaca, founding the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art. In 1981 Tamayo and his wife donated to the people of Mexico their collection of international art, which formed the basis for the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico City.

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Universalium. 2010.

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