Mister Watermelon/Señor Sandía: Fruitful Anxieties in Rufino Tamayo’s "Naturaleza Muerta"

Lesley Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay considers watermelon’s role as a vital symbol in Rufino Tamayo’s understudied mural, "Naturaleza muerta." Moreover, this essay considers watermelon's agency as an eco-visual signifier of Mexican heritage, inclusive of the complex ways watermelon elevates imagined spheres of national belonging while veiling the informal food economies of market vendors that propelled this heritage. By drawing upon feminist scholar bell hooks’s concept of “eating the other”—a gustatory metaphor for the fraught power dynamics of race and gender in Western society—this essay argues that watermelon functions as a vehicle for the competing discourses of displacement, decontextualization, and signification of the Other in Tamayo’s modernist mural, and, by extension, mid-century Mexico City’s visual landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12
JournalVistas: Critical Approaches to Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art
StatePublished - Jun 18 2020


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