Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rufino Tamayo--Tres Personajes

Well, some people have all the damn luck. If I had found a Tamayo in a dumpster, you bet I would have recognized it.
But one March morning four years ago, Elizabeth Gibson was on her way to get coffee, as usual, when she spotted a large and colorful abstract canvas nestled between two big garbage bags in front of the Alexandria, an apartment building on the northwest corner of Broadway and 72nd Street in Manhattan.

“I had a real debate with myself,” said Ms. Gibson, a writer and self-professed Dumpster diver. “I almost left it there because it was so big, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Why are you taking this back to your crammed apartment?’”

But, she said, she felt she simply had to have the 38-by-51-inch painting, because “it had a strange power.”

I wondered why my blog traffic had suddenly spiked; evidently the New York Times ungenerously posted an inadequately tiny photo of the Stolen Masterpiece, and when a person Googles the name 'Tamayo,' looking for a bigger one, they get me. So I did a high-resolution scan of 'Tres Personajes' from the Tamayo anthology on my bookshelf, and here it is. We aim to please.

Rufino Tamayo, 'Tres Personajes,' oil on canvas, 1970

Over the last few days, I have been following a couple of debates about Quality in art--whether it is subjective, objective, or has any relation to morality whatsoever. Much has been said, which I shall not attempt to paraphrase or repeat. I will merely state that one aspect of Quality may include that nameless thing which causes a non-art-scenester to haul a large, odd, cumbersome object out of a trash pile and put it on her wall, because it has 'a strange power.' Not because it has a ream of text on the wall next to it, explaining the post-modern or political ramifications of its existence; not because a haughty individual with a gift of gab and many wealthy connections tells you it is Important; not because it enrages people, or cost a lot to produce, or critics wrote about it, or because hipsters are clustered in front of it, talking about themselves. Just for the energy in the object itself.

14 comments:

Chris Rywalt said...

I saw the painting on the news the other night -- last night? The night before? I forget -- and the colors looked much, much better than your scan. I'd assume it's because of the reproduction from which you scanned it -- it has that "1970s Art Book" vibe.

I'm not saying this to fault your scan or the photo, just as a note to anyone looking at this and thinking, "Strange power? Huh?" that the original is much brighter and more striking than you can see here.

prettylady said...

Well, this scan looks better than the image available at the NYTimes, and that's all I was shooting for. The 'Auto Levels' filter on Photoshop ruined it, so I just posted the raw file. It's not a '1970s Art Book' but it IS printed in Mexico.

Chris Rywalt said...

Perhaps it's insulting of me to think so, but I assume "printed in Mexico" to be equivalent to "printed on American equipment from the 1970s."

Desert Cat said...

Chris,
Any better?

prettylady said...

That IS better, DC. Is that mine, put through a filter, or another one?

Desert Cat said...

Yours, with the gamma and contrast tweaked up a bit.

Chris Rywalt said...

Much better. Still a little moire, but not bad. Closer to what I saw on TV, I think. The one on TV looked bright enough to pop.

The important thing here, though, as I told Darling Pretty Serena last night when I saw her, is that this is really a brilliant example of the power of real, true, good art. The viewer doesn't need a degree or a developed "eye" or even be an art person and the context doesn't need to be a gallery with explanatory verbiage in a book by the door -- real, true, good art will grab anyone anywhere, even someone glancing at it as it sits among trash.

This is amazingly important -- vital, even. Absolutely necessary for understanding what it is artists -- like me and Stephanie and many others -- are trying to do. It's a vindication of everything we think about art and a repudiation of so much of the art world in these benighted times.

amy m. provine said...

Thanks for posting the image! It was such an intriguing story, that I had to find out what the painting looked like.

Kidist said...

Pretty Lady, is that the Pretty Lady who comments on Vox? Yes, it is, I just checked your profile!

And I got here in a round about way - isn't blogging great?

It's wonderful to see your art. Hope I can make some coherent comments some time. I've been looking at a lot of Religious art these days. Tres Personajes - The Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Mexicans are extremely religious, I would think.

prettylady said...

Hi, Kidist! Yes, Pretty Lady has Other Lives, many and varied.

Kidist said...

Your mandala-inspired paintings are beautiful.

prettylady said...

Thank you.

nomi said...

thanks for posting the pic.

nomi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.