About the Artwork

Rufino Tamayo (Mexico, 1899–1991), Woman with Fruit Basket (Mujer con canasta de frutas), 1926.
Oil on canvas; 34 3/4 × 26 3/4 in. (88.27 × 67.95 cm); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art (M.2006.213.3); © 2024 Rufino Tamayo / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Following the death of his mother, the eleven-year-old Rufino Tamayo moved from his birthplace of Oaxaca to Mexico City to live with extended family. While studying accounting and working in the family’s fruit shop, young Tamayo began taking classes at the National School of Fine Arts. Tamayo soon committed himself to painting full time and set out to forge his own connections. On April 10, 1926, in an open storefront next to the Zócalo (Mexico City’s main square), he inaugurated his first solo exhibition of twenty paintings, including Woman with Fruit Basket.

Tamayo’s subject holds a bounty of fruits—apples, mameys, mangos, bananas, and pomegranates—perhaps a nod to the family business. Piled together, the brightly colored fruits introduce a still-life element to the painting, the mamey peeled open to glimpse its inside. In contrast, the stoic female figure confronts the viewer directly, her firm stare disallowing any further entrance into the scene.

For more information see the catalogue entry by Rachel Kaplan in Rufino Tamayo: The Essential Figure, 2019, pp. 12–13.

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