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Rufino Tamayo
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Oaxaca, Mexico
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Mexico City, Mexico
Born in Oaxaca, Mexico. copyright info. from SFMOMA (3/7/2000): Sra. Maria Eugenia Bermúdez de Ferrer/ Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo/ c/o Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo/ Paseo de la Reforma y Gandhi/ Bosque de Chapultepec/ México, D.F. 11580/ phone: 011 525 286 65 39/ fax: 011 525 286 65 29 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. b. 1899, Oaxaca, Mexico; d. 1991, Mexico City Rufino Tamayo was born on August 26, 1899, in Oaxaca, Mexico. Orphaned by 1911, he moved to Mexico City to live with an aunt who sent him to commercial school. Tamayo began taking drawing lessons in 1915 and by 1917 had left school to devote himself entirely to the study of art. In 1921 he was appointed head of the Department of Ethnographic Drawing at the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Mexico City, where his duties included drawing pre-Columbian objects in the museum’s collection. Tamayo integrated the forms and slate tones of pre-Columbian ceramics into his early still lifes and portraits of Mexican men and women. The first exhibition of Tamayo’s work in the United States was held at the Weyhe Gallery, New York, in 1926. The first of his many mural commissions was given to him by the Escuela Nacional de Música in Mexico City in 1932. In 1936 the artist moved to New York, and throughout the late thirties and early forties the Valentine Gallery, New York, gave him shows. He taught for nine years, beginning in 1938, at the Dalton School in New York. In 1948 Tamayo’s first retrospective took place at the Instituto de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Tamayo was influenced by European Modernism during his stay in New York and when he traveled in Europe in 1957. In that year he settled in Paris, where he executed a mural for the UNESCO Building in 1958. Tamayo returned to Mexico City in 1964, making it his permanent home. The French government named him Chevalier and Officier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1956 and 1969, respectively, and he was the recipient of numerous other honors and awards. His work was exhibited internationally in group and solo shows. Important Tamayo retrospectives took place at the São Paulo Bienal in 1977 and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1979. He died in Mexico City on June 24, 1991.