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    Sale 1907

    Latin American Sale Evening Session

    19 - 20 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 48

    Rufino Tamayo (Mexican 1899-1991)

    Diálogo

    Price Realised  

    Rufino Tamayo (Mexican 1899-1991)
    Diálogo
    signed 'Tamayo, O-85' (lower right) titled 'DIALOGO', signed 'R. Tamayo' and dedicated (on the reverse)
    oil and sand on canvas
    51 1/8 x 76¾ in. (130 x 195 cm.)
    Painted in 1985.


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    Rufino Tamayo's Diálogo is consistent with many of the universal themes that preoccupied the artist throughout his life: music, art, nature, and humanity. Moreover, it reveals his well known abstracted figural style--an admixture of modernist fragmentation of form, poetic symbolism, realism, and a haunting archaism--which propelled the Mexican artist onto the international scene in the late 1930s.

    The painting depicts a couple in the midst of a passionate conversation. With a guitar prominently displayed to their side, arms gesticulating in precise motions, necks outstretched, and mouths open widely, their poses make it appear as though they are engaged in a musical dialogue. They stand before a rectangular frame that encloses a landscape scene replete with horizon line, blue sky, a rising or descending moon/sun, and stylized plant forms, and is perhaps a painting or window. A vase with twig-like branches formulates part of this background scene but also spills out into the space occupied by the figures. Other elements within Tamayo's composition play with levels of representation and the viewer's perception. For example, ghostly images emerge from the background, including yet another figure in the upper left portion of the window, constellation-like shapes in the perimeters of the composition, and hazy, darker shadows below.

    At once modern and ancient-looking, Diálogo incorporates many of Tamayo's aesthetic strategies. The abstracted, flattened, and fragmented figures evoke Picasso, but their poses recall ancient art since their legs and torsos face the viewer, but their arms and heads are turned to the side in quasi-twisted perspective. Furthermore, the composition is very symmetrical and balanced overall, adding to the sense of antiquity. The curve of the chair behind the two figures in the lower half of the painting repeats the contours of the moon/sun, while the shape of the frame in the background echoes the painting as a whole. The magical nature of the scene, specifically the floating elements, relate to Chagall, while the subject matter of two figures engaging one another before a picture window recalls Matisse's Conversation of 1910. And though by 1985 Tamayo had left behind his depictions of animals, the pose and facial features of the figure on the right (note the snout) quotes his own Animals of 1941, itself an appropriation of figures within Picasso's Guernica.

    Despite the musical or "loud" subject matter--Diálogo exudes a general feeling of muteness. The grey colors, only occasionally punctuated with bright blue or pink add to this sense. Indeed, language seems to be at the core of this painting. The "picture within a picture" motif suggests Diálogo is an allegory of the arts that mines various abstract languages-verbal, musical, and visual.

    Anna Indych-López, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Art, The City College of New York.

    Provenance

    Acquired from the artist.
    By descent to the present owner.


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the correct birth date for the artist is 1899.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTION


    Literature

    Exhibition catalogue, Setenta Años de Creación Artística, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, 1988, no. 254, p. 327.
    Exhibition catalogue, Rufino Tamayo: Painting, Drawing and Graphic Work, 1925-1989, Moscow, Soviet Painters Union, 1989, no. 65, p. 118.
    Exhibition catalogue, Rufino Tamayo: Painting, Drawing and Graphic Work, 1925-1989, Oslo, Edvar Munch Museet, 1989, no. 65 (illustrated).
    Exhibition catalogue, Rufino Tamayo: Painting, Drawing and Graphic Work, 1925-1989, St. Petersburg, The Hermitage, 1990, no. 65, p. 86 (illustrated).
    Exhibition catalogue, Rufino Tamayo: Painting, Drawing and Graphic Work, 1925-1989, Berlin, Staatliche Kunsthalle, 1990, no. 138, p. 313.
    Exhibition catalogue, Rufino Tamayo: Recent Paintings, 1980-1990, New York, Marlborough Gallery, 1990, no. 11, p. 67 (illustrated in color), p. 29.
    T. Del Conde, Tamayo, Mexico City, Grupo Financiero Bital, Américo Arte Editores, 1998, p. 126 (illustrated in color).
    Exhibition catalogue, Tamayo: Su idea del hombre, Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, 1999, no. 50, p. 93.
    L. Viadas, "Idea y hombre en Rufino Tamayo," in Barro Sur, Third Year, no. 26, October 1999, p. 13 (illustrated in color).
    E. J. Sullivan et al, 10 Maestros de la Plástica Mexicana, Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, no. 778, p. 185 (illustrated in color), p. 159.


    Exhibited

    Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, Setenta Años de Creación Artística, December 1987 - March 1988.
    Moscow, Soviet Painters Union Main Hall, Rufino Tamayo: Painting, Drawing and Graphic Work, 1925-1989, August - October 1989. This exhibition later traveled to Oslo, Edvar Munch Museet, October - January 1990; St. Petersburg, The Hermitage, February - March 1990; Berlin, Staatliche Kunsthalle, May - June 1990.
    New York, Marlborough Gallery, Rufino Tamayo: Recent Paintings, 1980-1990, September - October 1990.
    Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, Tamayo: Su idea del hombre, August - October 1999.