Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Un juicio sobre la pintura de Tamayo, 1948 Jul. / por Carlos Mérida
    9 p.
    Typed sheet – Essays
    Mérida, Carlos. "Un juicio sobre la pintura de Tamayo," 1948. Manuscript. Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City.

Taking Rufino Tamayo’s exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes [Palace of Fine Arts] in 1948 as a starting point, Carlos Mérida writes an essay in which he analyzes Tamayo’s work with reference to its composition, themes, styles and influences. Mérida highlights the truly Mexican content of Tamayo’s production, expressed in a language eminently modern and of universal merit. Mérida points out that Tamayo’s painting cannot appeal to the tastes of the majority or to those sectors that see art only as a vehicle for political propaganda.


This article by Carlos Mérida (1891-1984) on the work of Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) was published in the newspaper El Universal de México in July 1948, coinciding with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes’ tribute to the Oaxacan painter that celebrated 20 years of his artistic endeavors. It covers the retrospective show of 82 works then being shown at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in June of that same year. At the time, some articles that were severely critical of Tamayo’s work were being published; among them, such as those by Antonio Rodríguez, who considered the artist “foreign,” “purist,” “without social content” and “bourgeois.” Mérida’s essay could be considered a response to Rodriguez’s observations, especially those voiced in“¿México tendría hoy una escuela de pintura propia, de haber seguido a Rufino Tamayo?” [“Would Mexico have a school of painting of its own today, if it had heeded Rufino Tamayo?”] (See doc. no. 758248).

Through his writings, Mérida spans more than six decades of the art milieu in Mexico. His vision, fiercely critical and seductive, reflects the thoughts of a person who not only shared the space and time of the diverse developments of art in the world, but who also contributed new readings and distinct analytical viewpoints from those that marked his era. The painter not only wrote about the evolution of the visual arts in Mexico, but also on the topics of caricature, photography, dance, film, design and folk art both in Mexico, as in his native Guatemala. In addition, Mérida also wrote profound reflections on the composition, meaning and function of art.

Leticia Torres
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of Alma Mérida, Mexico City, México
Donación Alma Mérida : Museo Nacional de Arte