Rufino Tamayo (1899 – 1991) was a Mexican painter of Zapotec heritage, born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. Tamayo was active in the mid-20th century in Mexico and New York, painting figurative abstraction with surrealist influences.
Rufino Tamayo was born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. His parents died when he was a young man and he then moved to Mexico City to live with his aunt. While there, he devoted himself to helping his family with their small business. However, after a while, his aunt enrolled him at Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas at San Carlos in 1917 to study art. As a student, he experimented with and was influenced by Cubism, Impressionism and Fauvism, among other popular art movements of the time, but with a distinctly Mexican feel. Although he studied drawing at the Academy of Art at San Carlos as a young adult, he became dissatisfied and eventually decided to study on his own. He then he began working for José Vasconcelos at the Department of Ethnographic Drawings (1921), and was later appointed head of the department by Vasconcelos.