Rufino Tamayo, 1899-1991

Tamayo was born in Oaxaca, one of the states with the largest ethnic populations in Mexico. After a brief but influential period as a pupil of the San Carlos Academy he began to experiment with the different "isms" originating in Paris: Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. He was an active participant in what is known as the Mexican Renaissance, assimilating the artistic principles of his contemporaries, especially of the artist María Izquierdo, who was his partner and companion. He painted murals before going to the United States to live in New York. Without forgetting his formal roots and the modernity of Mexican painting, he studied the work of Picasso and Matisse, joining the sphere of international avant-garde. From the thirties onward he had regular individual exhibitions in the United States, and from 1946 gave a painting workshop in art school in Brooklyn. Disturbed by the War, the bombing of Hiroshima and post-war tension, in his work he reflects the bestial forces of humanity and the unleashing of new cosmic forces. He took part in the XXV Venice Biennial and in 1957 was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government. When he was eighty, the Guggenheim Museum of New York devoted an extensive retrospective exhibition to him. He donated his collection of international modern art to the museum which bears his name. Large individual exhibitions paying homage to him were held in Mexico City, Madrid, Moscow, Oslo, Leningrad, Berlin and other cities all over the world. He died in 1991, and only two years later the Nagoya City Art Museum devoted a commemorative exhibition to him.