El Hombre (Man)

MAKER:
Artist

Rufino Tamayo ( Mexican, 1899 - 1991 )

DATE:
1953
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General Description

When Rufino Tamayo was commissioned to create a monumental portable mural by then Dallas Art Association President Stanley Marcus for display at the 1953 State Fair of Texas, the artist chose a universal subject—humankind.

Devoid of traditional allusions to Mexico and Mexicanism, El hombre echoes an ancient heritage while embracing international modernist styles. Tamayo retained figuration in the form of a colossal man whose abstracted limbs are both firmly planted into the ground and extended toward the constellations. This three-panel mural shows man as a transcendent being—a liminal figure on the borderlands of innovation and tradition, future and past. At the man’s foot, a dog acts as a reminder of terrestrial limitations amidst a celestial scene of human aspiration and development.

Throughout his career, Tamayo distinguished his art from the politicized and nationalistic subjects of his contemporaries José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera.

Adapted from

México 1900–1950, Label text, 2017.

Fun Facts

  • The mural had a tumultuous journey from Mexico to Dallas during the summer of 1953. Its location was unknown for a period of time when flooding in Northern Mexico caused railcars to reroute and cease operations. Bywaters wrote the artist with relief when the work arrived unscathed in September.
  • In 1952, Tamayo visited the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (now the DMA) for four days as a visiting artist.

Web Resources

  • Tamayo's El Hombre
    Watch a 1999 video in Spanish produced by Canal 22 (Mexico City), and learn more about the artist and the DMA's El Hombre (1953.22).