Rufino Tamayo Biography

Rufino Tamayo

Mexican

1899-1991

Biography

Rufino Tamayo was born in Oaxaca, Mexico on August 26, 1899. After the death of his parents in 1911, he went to live with his aunt in Mexico City. In 1917 he was enrolled at the Escuela des Artes Plasticas, where he studied Cubism, Impressionism, and Fauvism. These remained influential elements in his artistic career, but perhaps his strongest inspiration came from his own Zapotec heritage and from Mexican folk art, which he was first exposed to when he worked as a draftsman for the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia. Tamayo would become known for this distinct style, one that took a separate path from that of his more politically driven contemporaries. Eventually, finding it difficult to create an identity as the artist he wanted to be without conforming to a political agenda, he decided to move. In 1926 he left Mexico City for New York, where he began exhibiting and soon gained recognition as an artist. His first major retrospective was held in Mexico City in 1948; despite his controversial style, it was successful. Tamayo and his wife, Olga, then moved to Paris. They lived there until 1959, when they returned to Mexico City permanently.

Tamayo helped to develop “mixographia”, a technique designed to create three-dimensional, textured prints on handmade paper. His exhibitions have been in major museums such as the Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes, México, The Philips Collection in Washington, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid as well as important art galleries throughout the world.

Rufino Tamayo died in Mexico City, on May 6, 1991.