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Rufino Tamayo's Mural Painting at Mexico City Historical Center Restored

MEXICO CITY.- After a year and a half of intervention conducted by National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) specialists, the 80 square meters area of the Rufino Tamayo mural “El canto y la musica” (Chant and Music), is totally consolidated, and cleaned in its 50 per cent.

This is one of 3 fresco technique murals by Tamayo; it was created in 1933 in the building that lodged the National School of Music, at 16 Moneda Street, Historical Center, Mexico City. The work will be fully restored in early 2010, while the east wall and part of the north one have underwent chromatic restitution.

Within the frame of the 70th anniversary of INAH, the mural intervention, leaded by Jaime Cama Villafranca, is part of special projects developed by the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography “Manuel Castillo Negrete” (ENCRyM).

According to restorer Daniel Sanchez Villavicencio, field supervisor, from September 2007 to present, “the main objective was to reestablish the esthetic values of the painting, affected by deterioration, which has been fulfilled”.

Consolidation tasks consisted on injecting an adhesive material similar to the original mortar, elaborated with lime and casein, to help recovering cohesion and stability of the flattening, which supports the fresco.

Cleaning is done by INAH experts with a gel developed to remove natural resin added to the surface, which do not damaged the pictorial layer.

Chromatic reintegration is made with mineral pigments agglutinated in a reversible and stable commercial resin, which gives the same matte properties than fresco, recovering the tone and shine that characterize the work of the Oaxaca artist.

Sanchez Villavicencio, also professor of the Easel Painting Seminar-workshop at ENCRyM, declared that “the opportunity of intervening and studying this modern plastic work, its features and problems, is an important academic and practical experience for the INAH School”.

Rufino Tamayo painted this mural using the fresco technique, which consists in applying mineral pigments to a thin layer of lime and marble powder; once the mixture dries, it locks in the colors.

With INAH financial support and National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) approval, 5 ENCRyM graduates from the Restoration Bachelor Degree are in charge of the work.

Javier Vazquez Negrete, conservation specialist and academic at ENCRyM, advises the tasks related to cleaning and data interpretation.

With information from “El canto y la musica” intervention, a publication is being conformed to present the research results.

National Institute of Anthropology and History | Rudino Tamayo | National School of Music | Mexico City |

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