Rufino Tamayo was a Mexican painter known for his use of bold colors and semi-abstraction, reflecting both his heritage and international art movements. In 1941, while living in New York, he painted several animal fight paintings that can be interpreted as an allegory for the anxiety of wartime. Tamayo’s animal paintings express a spirit of revolt, showcasing aspects of reality coupled with surrealism through abstract forms.
One of his notable animal fight paintings is “Animals,” which is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. The painting exemplifies Tamayo’s signature style with its dynamic composition and striking use of color. It portrays animals engaged in combat using abstract forms but does not showcase any identifiable features such as naturalistic settings or recognizable animals.
In Woman with a Bird Cage, another one of Tamayo’s famous works from this time period influenced by cubism depicts sharp angles and jagged lines to create abstraction on traditional subjects such as human figures that portray emotion through their surreal edges rather than just photo-realism.