Museum of Modern Art Selling Rufino Tamayo Artwork to benefit Acquisitions Fund

The painting ‘Watermelon Slices’ is being sold on behalf of The Museum of Modern Art in New York by Sotheby’s on 16 November, to benefit the Acquisitions Fund. The painting is estimated to fetch $1.5/2 million. It has been in the museum’s collection since 1953, three years after it was created, and has been included in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Tate Gallery in London.

Watermelon Slices was painted in 1950, the year Tamayo participated in the Venice Biennale. Two years before, he had been lauded by Mexican art critics and the public during his retrospective at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes which was installed in the galleries of the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico’s premier cultural space. By the time he created Watermelon Slices Tamayo was already considered one of the most acclaimed artists of his generation, a reputation that has only grown in the ensuing years.

Watermelon Slices fuses both the international modernist aesthetics of Cubism with a local subject matter and symbolism. The simple two-dimensionality, sparseness and geometric forms are an essential part of Tamayo’s art from this period. The red, white and green watermelons echo the colors of the Mexican flag, but as well as this symbolism, watermelons held personal significance for Tamayo, who as a young man helped his aunt sell the fruit at her market stand in Mexico City.

Watermelon Slices is part of a retrospective view of Tamayo’s work from various consignors in the sale. Seven other paintings by the artist trace his artistic development from his surrealist roots in Frutero y Domino from 1928 (est. $275/375,000), to Tres Figuras from 1966 (est. $750/950,000).

Image: Rufino Tamayo, Watermelon Slices, 1950. Estimate: $1.5/2 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

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