Lot 51
  • 51

Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)

350,000 - 450,000 USD
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  • Rufino Tamayo
  • Hombre
  • signed and dated O-61 upper right; also titled on the reverse
  • oil and sand on canvas
  • 29 1/8 by 35 1/2 in.
  • 74 by 90 cm


Galería Misrachi, Mexico City
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York
Galería Martí S.A., Nuevo Laredo
Private Collection, Mexico City
Sale: Christie's, New York, The Latin American Sale, June 2, 1999, lot 103, illustrated in color
Sale: Gary Nader, Miami, VII Latin American Art Auction Important Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings, January 23, 2000, lot 30, illustrated in color
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Mexico City, Galería Misrachi, Tamayo, Nueva Fisonomía de la Pintura Mexicana, March 1962, no. 9
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Tamayo, May 15-June 9, 1962, no. 11
Tokyo, Shirogane Gechinkan Hall of Mainichi Newspaper, Rufino Tamayo, September 11-October 6, 1963, no. 25, illustrated
Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno, Rufino Tamayo, September-October 1964, no. 40, illustrated


Juan García Ponce, "Tamayo," Cuadernos de Bellas Artes, Año III, No. 3, March 1962, p. 26, illustrated
Juan García Ponce, "La Noche y la llama," Revista de la Universidad de México, Vol. XXI, No. 3, January 1967, pp. 7, 10, illustrated
Emily Grenauer, Rufino Tamayo, New York, 1974, no. 61, n.p., illustrated 
Octavio Paz and Jacques Lassaigne, Rufino Tamayo, (First Edition), Barcelona, 1982, no. 79, p. 122, illustrated in color 
José Corredor-Matheos, Tamayo, Barcelona, 1987, no. 54, illustrated in color
Octavio Paz and Jacques Lassaigne, Rufino Tamayo, (Second Edition), Barcelona, 1994, no. 79, p. 124, illustrated in color


The edges of the canvas present slight abrasions. Ultraviolet light examination revealed a small 1in. area of inpainting located 5 in. from the bottom edge and 7 1/2 in. from the left edge. Otherwise in very good condition.
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

Rufino Tamayo's painting underwent a fundamental transformation in the 1960s. Most notable among these stylistic changes is the radical synthesis of the human figure. Likewise, this decade marks the introduction of an innovative spatial relationship for his figures. For the first time, pictorial space appears not as a neutral scenario but a crowded field of opulent atmospheres inspired by the technical resources of the abstract expressionists: drippings, a gestural and looser brushwork as well as a powerful and dynamic sgraffito. Also apparent is a drastic reduction in the use of colors in lieu of a more complex tonal range. 

Painted at the inception of this new period in 1961, Hombre contains the aesthetic paradox so characteristic of Tamayo’s painting: the simultaneous representation of abundance and scarcity on canvas. His chosen palette of predominantly ceramic tones, enlivened with fragments of deep blues and fiery touches of reds are emblematic of Mexican crafts. The present painting also reveals Tamayo’s high regard for certain technical aspects used in Abstract Expressionism: a dizzying gestural brushwork and a vigorous graffito that ply the painted surface of the picture. The expressiveness of his textures, however, a resource employed by the painter since the forties—and whose use was strengthened during his stay in Paris where he met Jean Dubuffet—is further enhanced by his own experiments with coarse materials which he produced by mixing fresh pigment with sand.   

Hombre conveys the origin of a synthetic period where the anatomy and physiognomy of Tamayo’s characters undergo a rigorous purification. Such economy of forms is surprisingly balanced with opulent Oaxacan color. Masterly achieved by the application of superimposed layers of subtle halftone glazes, Tamayo’s palette reveals his virtuosity as one of the greatest colorists of the twentieth century.

Juan Carlos Pereda, March 2016

We wish to thank Juan Carlos Pereda for his kind assistance in the cataloguing of this work.