• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12166

    Latin American Art

    25 - 26 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 27

    Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)

    Hombre de la flor

    Price Realised  


    Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)
    Hombre de la flor
    signed and dated 'Tamayo, O-60' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    50 1/2 x 38 in. (128.3 x 96.5 cm.)
    Painted in 1960.

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    We are grateful to art historian Juan Carlos Pereda for his assistance cataloguing this work.

    At a time when Mexican Modernism had become synonymous with the overtly political work of Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo blazed his own path dedicated to arte puro, his distinct style of formalist exploration. Line, color and form, Tamayo asserted, inspired him above all else. “Painting,” he once said, “derives its value from its plastic qualities. Qualities obtained through the process of purification until one arrives at the essence. Ordered plastic essence, along with the poetic, is what I call painting.”(1)

    While a devoted formalist, Tamayo never abandoned traditional subjects such as portraits, landscapes and still-lifes. Indeed, the human figure remains an almost constant presence in his work. Even within the semi-abstract paintings of his later years, men and women emerge from his richly hued canvases, testifying to the artist’s commitment to humanist ideals.

    In Hombre de la flor, a barely discernable man arises from a riotous patchwork of warm umber, dusty rose, hot pink and cherry red flecked by unexpected lavender and gray-blues. A veritable palimpsest of pigments, Hombre de la flor flaunts Tamayo's consummate skill as a colorist and affirms his commitment to arte puro.

    (1)Rufino Tamayo, quoted in D. du Pont, ''Realistic, Never Descriptive:’ Tamayo and the Art of Abstract Figuration,’ Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted, Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 2007, 43.


    Galerie de France, Paris.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner (August 1961).


    A. García Formenti, "Le monde magique de Rufino Tamayo", Nouvelles du Mexique, no. 24, Paris, January-March 1961, p. 13 (illustrated).
    R. Esquirru, "Mexicano de pura sepa", Americas Revista, vol. 15, no. 11, November 1963, p. 24 (illustrated).
    A. Breton, Le Surréalisme et la pinture, Paris, Editions Gallimard, 1965, p. 232 (illustrated in color).
    Exhibition catalogue, Rufino Tamayo: Myth and Magic, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1979, p. 91, no. 66 (illustrated).
    O. Paz and J. Lassaigne, Rufino Tamayo, New York, Rizzoli, 1982, p. 101, no. 56 (illustrated in color).
    M. Rivera V., and C. Somorrostro G., Tamayo, Mexico City, Producciones Impresas, 1983 (illustrated in color).
    A. Abelleyra, "Rufino Tamayo, siete décadas de labor creativa", Casas y Gente, año 3, no. 22, Mexico City, December 1987, p. 43 (illustrated in color).
    O. Paz and J. Lassaigne, Rufino Tamayo, Barcelona, Ediciones Polígrafa, S.A., 1995, p. 102, no. 56 (illustrated in color).


    Zurich, Kunsthalle Zurich, 1960.
    New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Tamayo: Myth and Magic, 12 May-12 August 1979, no. 66.