Rufino Tamayo (1899 - 1991)

Figura prehispánica IV. Guerrero, Colima (1976)
Prehispanic Figure IV. Warrior, Colima

Lithograph on paper
height: 56cm
width: 45.5cm

Donated by the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo 1997


Tamayo's lithograph Guerrero is based upon a figure from Colima in West Mexico, as are two other works in the series, Jaguar and Xipe. The prevalence of warriors in the Figuras Prehispánicas series reflects the fact that these figures appear in Mesoamerican art throughout all periods and regions, indicating their central significance within Prehispanic societies. In a seated pose this grimacing figure wears the horned headpiece common to figures from this region, with a decorated strap that extends under his chin. He is also adorned with a breastplate of tear-shaped forms that extends across his chest and shoulders, executed in the highly simplified style, as are the figure's arms that meld into his legs and create a similar tear-like shape. These elements express Tamayo's intention to evoke specific details of the Prehispanic figures in his collection but a more fundamental exploration of form. Guerrero has one of the least patterned backgrounds of the series, and the warrior is marked with a bold stroke of colour across his face, chest and torso, which Tamayo applied after the lithograph was printed.

Terri Geis, 2008

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