Rufino Tamayo

Naturaleza muerta con alcatraces, 1924

Oleo / tela
39.1 x 40 cm

Rufino Tamayo entered the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) in 1917. It took him a decade to develop the first of his own recognizable and highly defined styles. At the beginning of the 1920’s, he was exploring the representation of light and color by means of an impressionist style (for example Chapel in Oaxaca, 1920; and Pátzcuaro, 1921) and he experimented briefly with Adolfo Best Maugard’s drawing method, which brought him in close contact with Mexican folk art. This piece was painted during his period of apprenticeship. Its characteristic feature is the pleasing equilibrium of forms, sizes, and colors, derived from the relationship between the wallpaper, the flowers, and the vase. The composition of the canvas immediately brings to mind the Henri Matisse work Harmony in Red (also known as The Dessert or The Red Room, 1908, Hermitage, St. Petersburg), and the pictorial play between planes can also be associated with portraits that Paul Gaugin painted in the late 1880’s. The geometric designs on the ceramic vase suggest a traditional folk art object; it would be incorrect, however, to attribute to this painting any kind of mexicanista focus seeking to exalt the popular arts, as if it were some kind of early form of artistic nationalism. A couple of years after painting this canvas Tamayo traveled to New York, where he had a decisive encounter with the formal an conceptual postulates of the international avant-garde. His artistic evolution can be appreciated in the still life works painted towards the end of the decade, which show great thickness of impasto, a darker palette, evocations of cubism, and the artist’s interest in the metaphysical painting of Giorgio de Chirico.

Rodríguez Mortellaro, Itzel et al. Mexican modern painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection, Mexico: RM Verlag, 2011, page 54.

More of this artist

Francisco Díaz de León Fund