Lot 42
  • 42

Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
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  • Rufino Tamayo
  • Ofrenda de frutas
  • signed and dated O-87 lower right
  • oil and sand on canvas
  • 55 1/8 by 68 7/8 in.
  • 140 by 175 cm


The Collection of Olga and Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City
Private Collection, Mexico City
Thence by descent


Mexico City, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Rufino Tamayo, 70 años de creación, December 1987-March 1988, illustrated on the cover of exhibition catalogue, no. 259, p. 327
Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Rufino Tamayo, Pinturas, June 29-October 3, 1988, no. 79, p. 222, illustrated in color
Moscow, Gallery of the Union of Painters of the USSR, Leningrad, August 29-October 1, 1989; Oslo, Edvard Munch Museet, October 26, 1989-January 21, 1990; Leningrad, The Hermitage, February 15-March 15, 1990; Rufino Tamayo: Paintings, Drawings and Graphic Work, 1925-1989, no. 70, p. 118, illustrated in color
Berlin, Staatliche Kunstalle, Rufino Tamayo, May 2-June 10, 1990, no. 142, p. 247, illustrated in color
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Rufino Tamayo. Recent Paintings 1980-1990, September 26-October 16, 1990, no. 17, p. 39, illustrated in color
Mexico City, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, Tamayo. Su idea del hombre, August 26-October 31, 1999, p. 87, no. 53, illustrated in color
El Paso, El Paso Museum of Art, Magnificent Mexico, 20th Century Modern Masterworks, January 28-May 27, 2012
Mexico City, Museo Tamayo, Tamayo/Trayectos, August 26, 2012-April 14, 2013, p. 173, illustrated in color


Octavio Paz and Jacques Lassaigne, Tamayo, Barcelona, 1995, no. 270, p. 292, illustrated in color
Teresa del Conde, Tamayo, Mexico City, 1998, p. 49, illustrated in color
Edward J. Sullivan, et. al., 10 Maestros de la plástica mexicana, Mexico, 2003, p. 162, illustrated in color
Juan Carlos Pereda, Rufino Tamayo La Poética del Color en La Medalla Belisario Domínguez y la Cultura en México, Mexico City, 2013, p. 200, illustrated in color 


This work is in beautiful condition. The large canvas is still stretched on its original stretcher. There are no reinforcements on the reverse. It is structurally in lovely condition. The artist incorporated sand in his pigment, and there is a very unique surface as a result. The artist scratched and scraped various areas to delineate certain forms. It seems that there have been no losses, damages or restorations to the work. (This condition report has been provided courtesy of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.)
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Ofrenda de frutas is one of Rufino Tamayo’s most exuberant compositions. Painted to celebrate his seventy years of artistic creation, it served as the iconic image of the national tribute paid to the artist at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City in 1987. Ofrenda de frutas not only welcomed the large crowds that visited the exhibition at the Museo Tamayo but it was also chosen as the cover of the catalog documenting the exhibition. This significant event consisted of a comprehensive retrospective that included every genre cultivated by Tamayo over the span of his prolific career. 

The present work could be interpreted as an autobiographical reference; a personal homage to a life of artistic fulfillment. In it, a radiant character beaming with happiness offers the beholder a prodigious harvest: a collection of abundant fruits emblematic of Tamayo’s long life cultivation of his craft. A festive and triumphant canvas, the painting alludes to a symbolic emotional portrait of his own cheerfulness; a youthful celebration of Tamayo’s love of life.  

Ofrenda de frutas central element is a luminous still-life made up of tropical fruits painted in tones of gold. Voluptuous and bountiful, they are fondly displayed within the smile-shaped sheet held by the powerful hands of the character; a form repeated on his face.

The powerful color of this canvas is achieved by the vital contrasts between the green saturated background, the subtle grays of the character, the furniture, and the varied shades of golden yellow emanating from the still-life which together, direct the viewer's eye to the red horizontal strips painted on his chest.

Like other works by Tamayo, Ofrenda de frutas reveals itself in its details: the character standing in front of us and on top of a table, in front of a landscape; centered in between two welcoming doors, he invites us to enter the magical world of Rufino Tamayo. 

Juan Carlos Pereda