Throughout Rufino Tamayo's career, the human body and more importantly the female body became an element of continuous investigation and a motivation for esthetic reflection. As a result, Tamayo created an extraordinary and extensive series of paintings devoted to the female nude. These works posses a complex and original structure that has enlarged the vision of the female nude in Mexican art. The artists' stylized figures and heavy, rotund forms all have their origin in pre-Hispanic and popular Mexican art.
The Venus negra of 1965 resembles a fertility goddess by the exaggerated form of her breasts and hips. Moreover, because of the color of the canvas, the generous, rounded bulkiness is erotic. This idea is accentuated by the position of the Venus who is standing in claro obscuro in a threshold that implies a warm, protective interior. At her shoulders is a cool light that suggests an exterior garden. There is a dual visual game in the body of the Venus. At first glance, we see a corpulent figure. However, if we look at the delicately scratched lines that reveal the white under-painting of the canvas, we discover the stylized body of a woman.
Tamayo, pleased with the esthetic results of his Venus negra, later created a color lithograph of the image using the same title. This was extremely rare for the artist, however he was eager to include Venus negra in Mujeres, a most prestigious lithographic publication.
We are grateful to Juan Carlos Pereda for his assistance in writing the essay for the above lot.