In the late 1940s Tamayo’s production, though anchored in the indissoluble nexus between modern and traditional, was showing signs of a pivotal change. There were moving figures that connected to the universe and the infinite. Seen against the worldwide clash between figuration versus abstraction, Tamayo’s paintings prompted admiration and surprise, but also provoked rejection and disdain. Whereas in Europe critics and public alike recognized the originality of his œuvre, in Mexico it was described as “foreignizing,” “purist,” abstract,” “devoid of social content,” and “bourgeois.”
The art critic Antonio Rodríguez (1909-93), a loyal champion of political painting, published a series of articles in which he aggressively reproached Tamayo for making art look dehumanized, abstract, and foreign. He strongly criticized Tamayo’s aesthetic tendencies, claiming that this painter created art that was almost abstract, “non-objective,” with “pure forms,” that was voluntarily—or perhaps because of an un-admitted limitation—stripped of ideas and social meaning. Rodríguez set out to find terrible defects in Tamayo’s work. He insisted that Tamayo was still Mexican, especially in terms of his color, but that his painting had become irredeemably influenced by the theories and production of the so-called School of Paris.