Rufino Tamayo - Latin America New York Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Fernando Gamboa, Mexico City
    Sotheby's New York, Latin American Art, November 20, 2001, lot 31
    Private Collection, Kansas
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Rufino Tamayo Setenta años de creación, December 1987 - March 1988
    Mexico City, Museos del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Recordando a Fernando Gamboa, June - August, 1995
    Mexico City, Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporáneo, Rufino Tamayo, del reflejo al sueño: 1920-1950, October 19, 1995 - January 21, 1996
    Mexico City, Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporáneo, Tamayo Dibujante 1926 - 1989, October 26, 2004 - January 30, 2005

  • Literature

    Rufino Tamayo Setenta años de creación, exh. cat., Museos del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, December 1987 - March 1988, p. 334 (illustrated)
    Recordando a Fernando Gamboa, exh. cat., Museos del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1995, Catalogue No. 77, p. 20, No.18 (illustrated)
    Rufino Tamayo, del reflejo al sueño: 1920-1950, exh. cat., Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 1995, p. 29 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The subject of the present lot is one of the allegorical characters included in the composition of the mural, El canto y la música - the first mural painted by Rufino Tamayo in 1933. The figure may be the embodiment of one of the muses or deities of music. The work depicts a woman in an ecstatic state flying through the air with a look of concentration on her face while she plays cymbals. Her long hair and her dress are not treated in detail, but that is appropriate for allegorical figures as they are symbols rather than depictions of individuals. As was typical in art from this period in Mexico, the sturdy volume of the subject has associations with women of the lower classes, which Tamayo enriches with the abstracted forms of pre-Columbian sculptures modeled by hand from clay. The work was drawn with graphite and charcoal on thick, tan kraff paper. It is signed and dated in the lower left hand corner, and it belonged for many years to the collection of Fernando Gamboa, close friend of the artist and one of the most important and active promoters of culture of the first half of Mexico's twentieth century.

    Allegorical figures have a long tradition in Western art. They were directly included in the colonial painting of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and very soon their features acquired the physical characteristics the local indigenous peoples. Many paintings produced in the three centuries of the colonial period represent these mythological beings, who retained their virtues and attributes in a vernacular manner. During the 19th century allegorical figures became associated with the painting of the people and even became part of the iconographic repertoire of the decorations in the local pulquerías. Their images were also inserted in popular games such as the lottery and other table games, which is possibly where Tamayo first became inspired to personify the muses and the kind of fantastic beings that appear in his youthful works.

    Las sirenas and El sueño, wood engravings from 1926, Las mensajeras en el viento from 1929, and Las musas de la pintura from 1932 are only some of the images of this genre that appear in Tamayo's work before they appear on a monumental scale in the mural El canto y la música.

    This very detailed drawing, executed with careful attention, is the study for one of the levitating characters that appears in the composition of El canto y la música, which Tamayo painted in the main staircase of the then Conservatorio Nacional de Música (National Conservatory of Music). The image of the woman playing cymbals, in a state of ecstasy, did not suffer any changes when it was being transposed to one of the doors of the stairwell of the staircase in that vice-royal palace planted in the heart of Mexico City.

    It's appropriate to take into account that the features of the deity are powerfully associated with the appearance of pre-Columbian ceramics, and even though she floats ethereally through the air, her volume and weight offer themselves considerably to the vision of the spectator, amplifying the magic of both the painting and the drawing, with that enchanting contradiction.

    Juan Carlos Pereda
    Curator, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City

  • Artist Biography

    Rufino Tamayo

    Mexican • 1899 - 1991

    Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Rufino Tamayo was an incredibly prolific artist working until his death at the age of 91. Half-European and half-Zapotec Indian, Tamayo produced work that was defined by his mestizo, or mixed-blood, heritage. Through his studies, Tamayo was exposed to every artistic school of his time including Fauvism, the classical French school, Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, all of which contributed to his style as it developed throughout his life.

    Tamayo reacted strongly against the Mexican muralists who dominated the art scene during his coming of age. Instead, his work is firmly grounded in realism while taking creative liberties in color and composition. His art emulates a unique blend of Cubism and Surrealism, joined with a deep understanding of Mexican culture.

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El canto y la música

graphite and charcoal on paper
18 1/4 x 24 1/4 in. (46.4 x 61.6 cm)
Signed and dated "Tamayo 33" lower left.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $68,750

Contact Specialist
Kaeli Deane
Head of Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1352

Latin America

New York 26 May 2015 4pm