Rufino Tamayo, the last of an extraordinary group of painters who defined modern Mexican art for the world, died yesterday morning of pneumonia in Mexico City. He was 91. Mr. Tamayo was a prolific painter whose works spanned more than seven decades. His early paintings bear some of the trademarks shared by muralists Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco and David Siqueiros, whose lavish works combined Mexico's indigenous roots with modern techniques. Mr. Tamayo, whose work frequently drew on pre-Hispanic themes, has been called "a pre-Columbian painter of the Paris School." His later work, often featuring fiery colors schemes and abstract figures, was a complete departure from the themes and style of the muralists.
Paul Ecke Sr., a German immigrant who turned the poinsettia into a traditional Christmas plant, died Friday of natural causes at his home in Encinitas, Calif. He was 96. Mr. Ecke was nicknamed "Mr. Poinsettia" for developing varieties of the plant that could be grown during Christmastime and promoting its yuletide merits. In the pre-greenhouse 1920s, florists had little to sell for the Christmas season. Mr. Ecke, working in an inherited poinsettia business in San Diego, began cultivating sturdier varieties of the fragile poinsettia that could be grown during cool months. Most of more than 40 million poinsettias sold annually in the United States can be traced back to Mr. Ecke's ranch, where he developed 30 strains grown across the nation. He won many awards, including admission to the Society of American Florists' Floriculture Hall of Fame.