Period & Style


Museum Practice

The Somnambulist Rufino Tamayo, 1899--1991 
Size: 39 1/2 in. x 31 1/2 in. (100.3 cm x 80 cm)
Anonymous gift, 1964:130

An avid collector, Tamayo acquired art that today forms the core of two museums in Mexico: one in Oaxaca that displays pre-Columbian art and another in Mexico City that presents modern and contemporary art. These interests are found in his own works, which incorporate traditional Mexican imagery, yet are infused with the spirit of contemporary Surrealism.

Tamayo created both easel paintings and large-scale murals. He was a contemporary of the Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, but he explored abstraction to an extent not attempted by these others. The Somnambulist reveals Tamayo's interest in developing a highly original style in its rendering of a sleepwalker with angular Cubist shapes and bold hues of orange and blue.


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