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Rufino Tamayo

Lion and Horse

1942

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A lion with bared teeth advances on a horse within a colorful but largely desolate landscape. The horse, an animal closely associated with humankind, bucks in terror at the lion's approach, throwing back its head and opening its mouth wide as if to scream. The Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo made several animal fight paintings during World War II while living in New York City; violent encounters between animals can be seen as an allegory for the anxiety and uncertainty of the wartime period in the Americas. A similarly traumatized horse is central to Pablo Picasso's monumental painting Guernica (1937), which was frequently exhibited in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Like numerous artists living in the United States, Tamayo was influenced by the combination of political content and modernist abstraction in Guernica, which memorializes the tragic bombing of a Spanish town in 1937 by German and Italian armies during the Spanish Civil War. [Permanent collection label, 2019]

  • Artist Rufino Tamayo (Mexican, 1899–1991)
  • Title Lion and Horse
  • Date 1942
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions unframed | 36 1/4 x 46 1/2 in.
  • Credit line University purchase, Kende Sale Fund, 1946
  • Object number WU 3775
  • Currently on View Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery, Room 4

Artists in Exile: European Surrealists in the US during and after World War II
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/01/2023

Tamayo: The New York Years
Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC), 11/03/2017 - 03/18/2018

Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 10/25/2016 - 01/08/2017
Pinta la Revolución. Arte moderno mexicano, 1910–1950 (Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950), Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, 02/09/2017 - 05/07/2017

Caught By Politics: Art of the 1930s and 1940s
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/19/2001 - 03/18/2001

Affinity of Form: African and Modern European Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 08/27/1999 - 10/24/1999

Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/12/1998 - 04/05/1998

Early Modern European and American Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/08/1998 - 10/12/1998

A Gallery of Modern Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 08/09/1994 - 10/16/1994

Rufino Tamayo Retrospectiva
Nagoya City Art Museum (Nagoya City, Japan), 10/09/1993 - 12/12/1993
Museum of Modern Art (Kamakura, Japan), 12/18/1993 - 02/05/1994
National Museum of Modern Art (Kyoto, Japan), 02/15/1994 - 03/21/1994

Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries
San Antonio Museum of Art, 04/06/1990 - 08/04/1990
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/10/1990 - 01/13/1991
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 09/12/1991 - 12/29/1991

Art of the Fantastic: Latin America 1920–1987
Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo (Mexico City, Mexico), 03/25/1988 - 05/22/1988
Pérez Art Museum Miami (Miami, Florida), 01/15/1988 - 03/04/1988
Queens Museum, 10/10/1987 - 12/06/1987
Indianapolis Museum of Art, 06/28/1987 - 09/13/1987

Cubists, Surrealists, and Expressionists
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/15/1983 - 09/04/1983

The Centennial Exhibition
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/15/1981 - 10/11/1981

Cubist, Expressionist, and Surrealist Paintings and Sculptures
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/20/1980 - 11/02/1980

Rufino Tamayo and His Sources
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, New York), 05/18/1979 - 08/19/1979

Rufino Tamayo
Museo de Arte Moderno of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes of Mexico, Foundation of the Biennale of Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 10/01/1977 - 12/18/1977

Tamayo Retropsective
Phoenix Art Museum, 03/01/1968 - 03/31/1968

Opening Exhibition of Mark C. Steinberg Memorial Hall
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 04/29/1960

Art at Washington University
Saint Louis Art Museum, 05/07/1953 - 05/31/1953

An Exhibition of Contemporary Art
Fine Arts Center Gallery, University of Arkansas, 04/15/1951 - 05/15/1951

Tamayo: 20 Anos de Su Labor Pictoria
Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, Mexico), 06/01/1948 - 07/01/1948

Rufino Tamayo
Arts Club of Chicago, 05/14/1945 - 05/31/1945
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 08/27/1945 - 09/27/1945

Tamayo: New Paintings, 1943
Valentine Gallery (New York, New York), 11/08/1943 - 12/04/1943

Mexican Art Today
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 05/27/1943 - 06/09/1943

1946
Curt Valentin Gallery, New York

Inscription [LL corner of canvas, written in black paint:] Tamayo / 42

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