The state of Morelos in Mexico is one of the smallest countries of the Mexican Republic, but its importance in Mexican history is inversely proportional to its size. Cuernavaca, the state's capital located 50 miles south of Mexico City, is globally recognized as the centre for Hispano American culture studies. Robert Brady (1928-1986), a painter and designer, acquired an elegant colonial building located in the Historic Centre of Cuernavaca and established a museum. The museum houses his art collection, which includes the works of such prominent Mexican artists as Rufino Tamayo and Miguel Covarrubias.
Rufino Arellanes Tamayo (1899-1991), a Zapotec Indian and one of the most worldwide famous Mexican artists, was born in Oaxaca. Tamayo was an outsider in post-revolutionary Mexico, politically neutral and opposing the muralists' commitment to a public art. His paintings - the sophisticated compositions of Mexican folk art with rich use of colour and texture - are closer to Cubism.
In his works Tamayo expressed his thought of the traditional Mexico and did not follow the more politically based paintings. Tamayo believed in the universality of painting, which put him in direct opposition to the other well-known group of Mexican artists of the time: the muralists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siquieros.
Tamayo's modern styles made him an object of ridicule for the muralists, who felt that painting should continue to serve revolutionary ideals, even though the Mexican Revolution had occurred in 1910. Having been made so uncomfortable by the muralists in his own country, Tamayo left for New York, where he lived for more than ten years. Eventually, Tamayo was recognized as a great painter in his own right, even by Mexicans who had earlier rejected him.
Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957), one of the central figures in the Mexican Renaissance (1917-1950), was born in Mexico City. Some compared this Mexican Renaissance to a great national fiesta, where Mexicans were finally able to celebrate their identity as the one grounded on their native land and people. This celebration took the form of passionate rediscovery of the historical past dismantled and negated by the Spanish conquest of 1521 and subsequent European colonization.
Covarrubias moved from Mexico City to New York City in 1923 and quickly made his name as an illustrator by his witty caricatures of famous people. He was also a noted muralist and lithographer. In the late 1920s he became interested in ethnology. He later wrote several excellent studies of the life and art of Native Americans.
Tamayo and Covarrubias were interested in Mexican art that bore no hint of European influence, and sought to shake off the European ties and produce the art based upon authentically Mexican, not European, traditions. They could embody indigenous Mexican artistic habits in their own works, because they were born Mexicans and continued to be Mexicans the lifetime through.