Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Rufino Tamayo (August 26, 1899 – June 24, 1991) was a Mexican painter of Zapotec heritage, born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico.Tamayo was active in the mid-20th century in Mexico and New York, painting figurative abstraction with surrealist influences. Tamayo's Zapotec heritage is often cited as an early influence. After the death of his parents, he moved to Mexico City to live with his aunt. Tamayo had no choice but to move and live with relatives in México City, México. While living with them, Tamayo was very devoted to helping his family out with a small business they owned. However, after a while Tamayo’s aunt enrolled him into an art school which was when his career as an artist began. He enrolled at Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas at San Carlos in 1917 to study art.While studying, Tamayo experimented with and was influenced by Cubism, Impressionism, and Fauvism, among other popular art movements of the time, but with a distinctly Mexican feel.Although he studied drawing at Academy of Art at San Carlos as a young adult, Tamayo was very dissatisfied and eventually went to study art on his own. That was when he began working for José Vasconcelos at the Department of Ethnographic Drawings (1921), and was later appointed head of the department by Vasconcelos. Rufino Tamayo, along with other muralists such as Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros represented the twentieth century, in their native country of Mexico. After the Mexican Revolution, Tamayo devoted himself to creating an identity in his work. Tamayo expressed what he believed was the traditional Mexico and did not create more overt political art like his contemporaries, such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Oswaldo Guayasamin, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. He disagreed with these muralists in their belief that the revolution was necessary for the future of Mexico; Tamayo believed that since Mexicans began the revolution they were only going to get hurt by it. He expressed this belief in his painting, Children Playing with Fire (1947). In this image, Tamayo shows two individuals being burnt by a fire they have created, symbolizing the people in Mexico being hurt by its own choice. Tamayo claimed that Mexico is becoming and will continue to be hurt from a war it created. Tamayo claimed, “We are in a dangerous situation, and the danger is that man may be absorbed and destroyed by what he has created”. Due to his opinion, he was seen by some as a "traitor" to the political cause, and he felt he could not freely express his art, so in 1926, he decided to leave Mexico and move to New York. Prior to leaving, he organized a one-man show of his work in Mexico City, where he was noticed for his individuality. Tamayo returned to Mexico in 1929 to have another solo show, this time being met with high praise and media coverage.