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Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)
Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)

Escape (also known as Mujer corriendo, Volcán en erupción, or Fuga)

Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)
Escape (also known as Mujer corriendo, Volcán en erupción, or Fuga)
signed and dated 'Tamayo O-56' (upper right)
acrylic and oil on masonite
39 1/2 x 31 3/8 in. (100.3 x 79.7 cm.)
Painted in 1956.
Galerie de France, Paris.
Galeria del Milione, Milan.
The Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art.
Gift from the above.
Rufino Tamayo: Addendum for Book 'Rufino Tamayo', Palm Springs, California, B. Lewin Galleries, 1983, p. 29 (illustrated in color).
Exhibition catalogue, Rufino Tamayo Retrospectiva, Nagoya, Nagoya City Art Museum, 1993, p. 64, no. 47 (illustrated in color).
Exhibition catalogue, La colección Bernard y Edith Lewin del Museo de Arte del Condado de Los Angeles, Vivencias para ser mostradas, autobiografía de una coleccionista, Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes,1998, p. 109, no. 82.
Paris, Galerie de France, Tamayo peintures, April 1958, no. 2.
Milan, Galeria del Milione, Rufino Tamayo con cuarentasette opera resentí, December 1958-January 1959, no. 1.
Santa Ana, California, The Museum of Modern Art, Rufino Tamayo, 19 September-30 November 1987.
Nagoya, Japan, Nagoya City Art Museum, Rufino Tamayo: Retrospectiva, 9 October-12 December 1993, no. 47. This exhibition also travelled to Kamakura, Japan, The Museum of Modern Art, 18 December 1993-5 February 1994, and Kyoto, Japan, 15 February-21 March 1994.
Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, La colección Bernard y Edith Lewin del Museo de Arte del Condado de Los Angeles, Vivencias para ser mostradas, autobiografía de una coleccionista, 29 April-26 July 1998, no. 82.

Lot Essay

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

A force in the development of a modern art in his native Mexico, Rufino Tamayo was an internationally celebrated painter, influential printmaker and inventive sculptor. Never a follower, Tamayo was a passionate artist committed to his craft first and foremost. But above all, Tamayo was a humanist. Mankind’s place in the vast universe—the stars that guided him when he first made epic journeys across the seas, the vastness of infinite space and the possibility of reaching for the Moon—all filled him with immense wonder. The human figure became a leitmotif for him throughout his prolific artistic production. Through the human form, Tamayo expressed his modernist aesthetic and mankind’s aspirations and yearnings. The female figure in particular remained a constant presence in his work. He found inspiration in women including his wife Olga whom he met in the 1930s when she was a music student. Indeed, Olga would become Tamayo’s lifelong muse.

Beginning in the late 1940s with the aftermath of worldwide destruction and tragedy brought on by the Second World War, Tamayo seemed to reflect on the future of humanity and his works became more gestural and dynamic. His figures seem uncomfortable, they twist and bend unnaturally but still press on and grasp beyond their spatial and psychological confinement. Such a work is Women Reaching for the Moon (1946) sold at Christie’s, November 2013 and the present work Escape which dates to 1956 a year before the artist moved to Paris where he would remain for seven years working and being part of the vibrant cultural life in the French capital. In 1956 the French Republic named Tamayo Chevalier and Officier de la Légion d’Honneur as it would again in 1959.

Tamayo’s color palette creates the psychological state in which the painting’s narrative unfolds as the entire composition is defined by the nebulous grey color; the figure exists within the pulsing black lines that illustrate it while flashes of the fiery red color dart about her. The work has also been known as Mujer corriendo (Running Woman); Volcán en erupción (Erupting Volcano); and Fuga (Flight). Each appellation alludes to altered states that may explain the potent image. The late art critic and art historian Raquel Tibol noted the profoundly intense sexual and cosmic force which overtakes the running woman as she writhes and convulses with life’s energy and its suffocating ardor. Tamayo, through the female essence, alludes to the primordial—the meteoric explosions of the universe that brought forth life.

Margarita J. Aguilar, Doctoral Candidate, The Graduate Center, CUNY

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