Hombre, luna, y estrellas (Man, Moon, and Stars)

Rufino Tamayo1950

Inter-American Development Bank

Inter-American Development Bank
Washington, United States

After a ten-year period dedicated almost exclusively to painting, Tamayo returned to printmaking in the early 1950s. Working in New York, he produced etchings and aquatints at Stanley Williams’ Atelier 17, the center of the postwar printmaking renaissance in the United States. He fully embraced the lithographic technique in Paris, exemplified in a group of seven lithographs printed between Guilde Internationale de l’Amateur de Gravure and the Desjobert workshop in December 1950. "Man, moon and stars" is one of the landmark prints from this period, attesting to the artist’s stylistic maturity and unique use of color. This lithograph reflects Tamayo’s interest in the formal language of pre-Columbian painting and sculpture as well as in the themes and motifs of Aztec cosmology. The pattern of red, black, and brown curved lines suggests the backbone of a body that appears to gaze at the moon and a group of constellations in a purple sky. One arm extends outwards, beyond the picture frame, while the other appears in perspective reaching forward, with fingers expressively open. The ritualistic character of the scene evokes the sacrificial ceremonies the Aztecs dedicated to Metztli, the Moon goddess, and conveys a sense of nostalgia for the lost connection between man and nature.

Text credit: Produced in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and Patricia Ortega-Miranda.


  • Title: Hombre, luna, y estrellas (Man, Moon, and Stars)
  • Creator: Rufino Tamayo
  • Date Created: 1950
  • Location: Mexico
  • Physical Dimensions: w15 x h22in.
  • Type: print
  • Rights: All rights reserved
  • Medium: color lithograph

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