Rufino Tamayo’s oil painting, “Women of Tehuantepec,” is a portrait depicting women from the Zapotec culture. The limited color palette used in the painting emphasizes the bright colored dresses worn by the women, and contrasts to their dark skin tone. Created in 1939, this original painting is currently owned by MoMA.
Tamayo was a master of modern Mexican art, known for his portraits and abstract expressionism. This particular work showcases his skill in capturing cultural identity through powerful images of commonplace people. Through their clothing and pose, Tamayo captures the strength and pride of these women as they stand with dignity before him.
The gouache version sold at auction also indicates that this artwork holds value not just for its cultural significance but also for its artistic value. Overall, “Women of Tehuantepec” offers an insight into contemporary Indigenous society in Mexico while highlighting Tamayo’s unique artistic style.