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The author of this article criticized Rufino Tamayo’s œuvre, comparing it to Picasso’s Cubism and remarking that the artist was “a servile imitator of the Paris School.” According to MacGregor, Tamayo’s contributions were for this “school” and not for Mexican painting. He even believed that the painter had strayed from the true art of the Three Greats: Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros. In his view, “Tamayo’s paintings represented—just like the content of all abstract art in general—a preference for the irrational, the subjective approach to the innermost as well as disconnected from the collective and from native values.” This type of assessment is an explicit reflection of the impact of certain European critics who expressed mistrust and disapproval of the paintings of Tamayo.


The idea that the painting of Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991) was abstract caused a certain amount of confusion. These kinds of assessments only fuelled the anger of Tamayo, who found he had to explain publicly that his art was not, in fact, abstract. Even his wife Olga sent a letter to the editor of the Excélsior to express her irritation that they had allowed this article to be published. (See Olga Tamayo, “Una carta de la esposa de Rufino Tamayo” [A Letter from the Wife of Rufino Tamayo], Excélsior, Mexico City , September 9, 1951.) Tamayo had been part of the post-revolutionary artistic movement and his paintings were not abstract, as he clarified in interviews he gave upon returning from Europe. He himself stated that he was against this trend because he considered it dehumanizing. In this polarized debate, the paintings of this Oaxacan artist should be deemed as an “intermediate” option, though one that in some way corresponds to the nationalist trend, which sought to establish a link between pre-Hispanic art and that of the European artistic avant-garde. 

Ana María Torres : CEPE, U.N.A.M. / CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of Surya Peniche de Sánchez Macgregor, Mexico City, México
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional