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

Venus Negra

Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) Tamayo, R. (Mexico) Venus Negra signed and dated 'Tamayo O-65' upper right oil on canvas 39 x 32in. (100 x 81.2cm.) Painted in 1965
Thomas McElhenny, Austin
Sale, Sotheby's New York, Latin American Sale, November 19 and 20, 1990, lot 16 (illustrated in color)
Galera de Arte Misrachi, Mexico City
Galera de Arte Misrachi, Tamayo, Mexico City, 1967, n.n. (illustrated in color)
E. Genauer, Rufino Tamayo, New York, 1975, p. 73 (illustrated in color)
O. Paz and J. Lassaigne, Rufino Tamayo, New York, 1982, p. 123, n. 80 (Illustrated in color)
J. Corredor-Matheos, Tamayo, New York, 1987, n. 60 (illustrated in color)
X. Xiaosheng, Tamayo: Serie de arte figurativo del siglo XX, Editorial de Arte de Jiangxi, China, 1995, p. 58 (illustrated in color) R.V. Mariano, C.G. Sommorrostro, Tamayo, Producciones Impresas, Mexico, 1983
Zurich, Galerie Semiha Huber, Rufino Tamayo, Nov.-Dec., 1965, n.p., n. 14
Mexico City, Galera de Arte Misrachi, 1966
Austin, Laguna Gloria Museum, Our Patrons collect, 1967
Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, Retrospective Works of Rufino Tamayo, 1968
Austin, Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Mexican Fantasy Art, 1972. This exhibition later traveled to Beaumont, Beaumont Art Museum
Paris, Muse d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Cent Oeuvres de Tamayo, Nov. 1974-Feb. 1975, n. 17
Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Rufino Tamayo, March 1-Apr. 30, 1975, p. 52, n. 14 (illustrated in color)
Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Rufino Tamayo: Fifty Years of His Paintings, Oct. 7-Nov. 16, 1978, p. 49, n. 31 (illustrated in color). This exhibition later travelled to San Antonio, Marion Koogler, McNay Institute, Jan. 6- Feb. 17, 1979
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Rufino Tamayo: Myth and Magic, 1979, p. 98, n. 73 (illustrated)
Mexico City, Museo Palacio de Bellas Artes, Rufino Tamayo: 70 aos de creacin, Dec. 1987-March 1988, n.n. (illustrated in color)

Lot Essay

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.


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