Rufino Tamayo (1899 - 1991)

Figura prehispánica IX. Mujer con el cuerpo decorado, Nayarit (1976)
Prehispanic Figure IX. Woman with an Ornamented Body, Nayarit

Lithograph on paper
height: 56cm
width: 45.5cm

Donated by the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo 1997


Mujer con cuerpo decorado is based upon a Prehispanic figure from Nayarit, as are a number of other lithographs in the Figuras Prehispánicas series. Many such figures were found in shaft-tombs in male-female pairs, and it has been suggested that they served as marriage portraits of the interred. In this image, Tamayo accentuates the thin and highly simplified arms and legs of the female figure, which raises one arm towards her mouth, and wears a patterned headdress. The woman's thick torso is marked with decorative patterns, which were often painted on to figurines from the West Mexico region. In their precision, these swirling lines on the body contrast with the loose, dark background patterns of the lithograph. A streak of bright paint extends down the side of the woman's body, which serves to balance the sculptural, object-based inspiration of the lithograph with the flattened and painterly effects Tamayo often sought for his art. At the same time, the warm tone of the paint also recalls the origin al object's medium of burnished earthenware.

Terri Geis, 2008

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