Painted on the eve of America's entry into World War II, while Tamayo was living in New York, this pair of snarling dogs captures, in the words of fellow Mexican painter Juan Soriano, "that horror before a world that was turning to stone before our eyes." Set against an eerily vacant yellow backdrop bathed in a red glow, the dogs, with their fangs bared, strike an anxious note, while the pale-blue bones near their paws suggest death or carnage. The subject matter was likely inspired not only by contemporary events but by pre-Columbian terracotta burial sculptures. In Aztec and Maya mythology, dogs were considered guides to the underworld, and statues of them were often buried with members of the ruling class.
Gallery label from 2009.