The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
On November 8, 1950, Rufino Tamayo opened an exhibition at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris. This anonymous short article, published in Mexico one week later, says that a “modest and educated” Mexican painter had stirred up an “art storm.” From then on, Tamayo’s name began to appear in Parisian newspapers. The critics referred to the “poetic genius” and commented that the structure of his paintings was intimately linked to color. In his interviews, Tamayo states that there are two opposing trends in Mexico: one is social realism, and the other is poetic realism, to which he belongs. The artist makes the point that his inclination is universal and not purely national. This outlook provoked discussions in Mexico that daily grew more heated.
During those years, Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) made great efforts to explain his aesthetic stance through which he sought to recover the pictorial and imaginative values of painting. He also attempted to "capture" the characteristics of modern life in his paintings, presenting the universality of Mexican art. However, his search was the subject of an ongoing, intense discussion in Mexico. Tamayo’s exhibition in a Paris gallery was significant; it represented the acceptance his paintings had among the European critics. Jean Cassou (1897-1986), director of the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris and the surrealist poet, André Breton (1896-1966) wrote the texts for this catalog. Cassou believed that it was neither through their local color nor their epic qualities that we discover Mexico in Tamayo’s work. It is instead through the darkness and depth of the disturbing images and the presence of a spirit that is new in these works. To the French critic, these paintings are silent and mysterious in such a way that they seem to come from a faraway land. He even stated that Tamayo was "one of the greatest poets of our time." For his part, Bretón thought the paintings by the artist from Oaxaca would put an end to the discord among the vocabularies. Regarding a universal language, Breton believed that this work opened the way for communications among the continents. Seen from this perspective, the style being developed by Tamayo was semi-figurative.