Rufino Tamayo

Oaxaca, 1899 - Mexico City, 1991

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Excerpts about Rufino Tamayo

Rufino Tamayo's painting has become critically important for contemporary art , both for his great height , maintained throughout an intense life , for its special significance . It was very visible way , one of the creators of America and at the same time, one of the artists who knew how to penetrate more deeply the reality of today's man , somehow transferring its historical dimension . His knowledge of the great pre-Columbian cultures allowed him to make an extraordinary synthesis, which participates in a universalist conception of art. Rufino Tamayo search the essential, expressing voluntarily with a restricted color gamut, to value the full tonal game. The topics tend to be simple-figures of men and women, animals, almost schematic, though laden with dense contents. "It can be said Lassaigne-Jacques writes that, like pre-Columbian art, Tamayo painting is, at once, metaphor, geometry and transfiguration." "The Tamayo painting, thus says in turn Octavio Paz, is a double of the universe: not his symbol but its projection on canvas. The painting is not a representation or a set of signs, is a constellation of forces." (Source: "by Rufino Tamayo" by Octavio Paz - Jacques Lassaigne)

Between 1925 and 1991 Rufino Tamayo created what has become one of the most important and original corpus of prints. In his 358 prints, made with different techniques, he shows his interest in graphic arts, parallel to his painting. Tamayo worked in the most important workshops in the world, opening his way in the history of graphic art in Mexico.

Rufino Tamayo was not only virtuoso technically speaking, but he also stood out as a propositive creator. In each of his prints, one can see the seal of a rebel artist, and is non-conformity with the traditional media. When breaking with the orthodoxy of traditional techniques, Tamayo achieved breakthrough results, even in the most ancient procedures, such as woodcut, engraving and lithography. (Source: "Rufino Tamayo: Catalogue Raisonné 1925-1991")

Since Rufino Tamayo perceived that the white of the paper made the color stand out, vibrates and acquires all its eloquence, that the white of the paper pushed the color and made vibrate the transparencies, he devoted himself to the practice of polychrome prints of outstanding quality. As a great colorist who was, understood that color did not mean to abound on it, and abuse of its supposed richness. The color, such as shape, should have a sense, obey a project, a system of ideas.

The use of texture marked a new chapter in printmaking. Various pastes and handmade papers made it possible to‚Äčincorporate any substance into a print. The resulting interactions between color and texture opened up unlimited possibilities of ground and color, all obtained at the definitive moment of printing.

In his full maturity Tamayo devoted himself to developing Mixografia; he did so with absolute awareness of the particular characteristics of that difficult method. This is shown in a statement from 1984:

"Color in Mixografia is different from that in lithography or engraving because ink is thinner than pigment. In engraving, ink is applied with a roller and in Mixografia, with a paintbrush; consequently, the impressions are different. Woodblock printing ceased to interest me and I have never liked etching. In the new techniques I found my kindred language. Mixografia accepts any materials: plaster, metal, or wood plates. But I admit that it is the artist’s temperament and mental state that makes him change any color." (Source: By Raquel Tibol in "Rufino Tamayo: Catalogue Raisonné 1925-1991")

A Mixografia is a type of print made starting from a support of any material, called a matrix plate. A collage can even be made with such varied elements as wood, metal, or organic materials on which the artist can draw, tear, engrave or carve in high relief. This allows him to work in positive so whatever he creates is the image that will be obtain in printing. Molds are then made from the matrix plate to obtain a copper plate that will pick up every detail on the negative plate. The copper plate is the inked with the artist’s colors using special inks that can withstand the excess water used in the process. The next step is to add the paper pulp-a mixture of cotton fibers, water, and sizing-to the ink plate, drain the excess water, and put it through the press. The result is a sheet with the reliefs and colors of the plate. (Source: ByMariana Morales in "Rufino Tamayo: Catalogue Raisonné 1925-1991")


Main Solo Exhibitions


1926 "Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Woodcuts by Rufino Tamayo", The Weyhe Gallery, NY.

1929 "Rufino Tamayo", Teatro Nacional (hoy Palacio de Bellas Artes), Mexico City

1931 "Rufino Tamayo", John Levy Gallery, New York.

1937 "Rufino Tamayo", Howard Putzel Gallery, San Francisco.

1939 "Rufino Tamayo", Velentine Gallery, New York.

1951 "Rufino Tamayo, Pinturas y litografías", Instituto de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires.

1952 "Rufino Tamayo", Panamerican Union, Washington, USA.

1958 "Una mostra personale del pittore Rufino Tamayo con quarantasette opere recenti", Galleria del Milione, Milán, Italy

1959 "Rufino Tamayo", Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo.

1963 "Rufino Tamayo", Shirogane Geihinkan Hall, Mainichi Newspaper, Tokio.

1967 "Homenaje, Rufino Tamayo, 50 años de labor artística", Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1968 "Rufino Tamayo", Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona.

1974 "Tamayo, Peintures 1960-1974", Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris

1976 "Rufino Tamayo", The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokio.

1977 "Rufino Tamayo", Museo de Monterrey, N.L.

1987 "Rufino Tamayo", The Modern Museum of Art, Santa Ana, California.

1987 "Rufino Tamayo, 70 años de creación", Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1990 "Rufino Tamayo", Staatliche Kunsthalle, Berlin.

1995 "Rufino Tamayo, Del reflejo al sueño: 1920-1950", Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City