Apocalypse de Saint Jean

Tamayo, Rufino.
Apocalypse de Saint Jean.
Monaco: Club International de Bibliophilie, 1959. (12138)

This publication was the first of a series by the Club International de Bibliophilie in Monaco, titled Livres de Peintres Contemporains. The work is illustrated throughout with fourteen-color lithographs by Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991), including four two-page images of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The French text was selected from the Sainte Bible printed in 1672 by Le Maistre de Sacy, Isaac-Louis (1613–1684).

The lithograph shown of the white horse and rider is referenced with this quote on the preceding page, “at the same time, I saw suddenly appear a white horse. He who was mounted defeated had a bow, and he was given a crown, and he went victorious to his victories.” Some scholars interpret that the white horse and rider symbolize Christ or the Antichrist. The white horse also has cultural and symbolic meaning including spiritual enlightenment, and the triumph of good over evil.

What sets Tamayo’s interpretation of the text in image apart is the layered, rich, intense color punctuated by white light. The color is typical of his style as a colorist where many tints, shades, and tones are added producing a depth of color that can suggest tension and release. The head of the figure resembles the pre-Columbian forms Tamayo was drawn to and used in his early still lifes. The sword brandished by the rider forms a circle over the figures mimicking the circular opening. The horse is drawn beautifully, the rider less defined, yet the figures are as one movement, springing forth powerfully into the darkness.

Rufino Tamayo was a Mexican painter and printmaker who was deeply influenced by his Mexican heritage as well as art movements including Impressionism, Cubism, and Fauvism. He gained an international reputation, living and exhibiting his work in New York (1937–1949) and Paris (1949–1959). Tamayo returned to Mexico City in 1964, making it his permanent home, and donating his collection of pre-Columbian art to the city of Oaxaca, and his collection of international art to the people of Mexico. The latter became the foundation for the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico City.

© 2021 Tamayo Heirs / Mexico / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Apocalypse de Saint Jean