Rufino Tamayo – Politically Unfazed, Traditionally Mexican Artist

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Rufino Tamayo was one of the most venerated Mexican painters who played a significant role in bringing the Mexican Art into the limelight. He was born on August 25, 1899, as Rufino Arellanes Tamayo, in the City of Oaxaca with Zapotec Indian lineage. He was orphaned at a very early age and was sent to Mexico City to stay with his Aunt in 1911.

In 1917, Rufino Tamayo embarked himself at the academy of Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. Here, he was influenced by different art styles like 'Cubism,' where he learned how a particular object can be depicted through multiple viewpoints. He was also inclined to 'Impressionism,' where he was introduced to the art of the fascinating use of colors. He demonstrated an appreciation for 'Fauvism' too, which taught him how reality can be distanced to bring about a distinct emotional effect. While imbuing all these styles, Tamayo molded each to maintain his own personal Mexican touch in them.

During the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, Rufino Tamayo took a courageous step by expressing only apolitical messages in his paintings. Tamayo's contemporaries, such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Oswaldo Guayasamin, and David Alfaro Siqueiros participating in the political movement, but Rufino Tamayo continued to be fascinated by the traditional Mexico and consequently, expressed in his paintings. In 1926, he left Mexico for New York to return in 1929 for hosting his solo exhibition among large admirations. 1937-49, Tamayo stayed with his wife, Olga, in New York. The artist held several exhibitions, painted some of his best works, and reached the heights of popularity in New York. The couple then went to Paris in 1949 to spend a decade there. Rufino Tamayo and Olga historically returned to Mexico in 1959. Here, he established a famous art museum, "Museo Rufino Tamayo," in the city of Oaxaca.

In 1970, Rufino Tamayo created one of his masterpieces, the "Tres Personajes (Three people)." The painting depicted a man, a woman, & a hermaphroditic figure with vibrant colors. This masterpiece was sold to a man in Houston in 1977, to be stolen later from his locker in 1987. In the year 2003, this painting was, yet again discovered by Elizabeth Gibson in the trash of the New York City curve. Even though she was not a great art enthusiast, she found the painting appealing and took it to her apartment. Elizabeth Gibson along with the previous owner auctioned the painting in Sotheby's and received $ 15,000 reward plus a portion of the $ 1,049,000 auction sales price.

Rufino Tamayo along with his friend Lea Remba ventured into printmaking in 1973. They developed a new technique of printmaking named "Mixografia," where the print was on handmade paper, but they experimented to bring three-dimensional effects of color and texture into it. During this period, Tamayo's monumental work, Dos Personajes Atacados por Perros ("Two Characters Attacked by Dogs"), was created. Tamayo bagged the Belisario Domínguez Medal of Honor in 1988. He last painted in 1989, entitled, Hombre con flor (Man with flower), which was a self-portrait.

The artist died of acute heart stroke on June 24, 1991. Rufino's works are highly appreciated in different art galleries, such as Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in the New York City, The Phillips Collection in Washington, and The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain, where he often exhibited his work. Until date, Rufino Tamayo remains an inspiration for his innovative and the novel works of art. Critics, art schools, and contemporary painters hold his work in the highest regard. He was quoted as saying, "Art is a way of expression that has to be understood by everyone, everywhere."

Source by Annette Labedzki

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