Visitors to the Norton Museum of Art will be treated to a rare treat this fall: an exhibition bringing together the largest group of works by legendary Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to ever be on display at the museum.
“Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection”, will be on view at Norton from October 23 to February 6. The exhibition features over 150 works on paper, photographs and costumes not only by Kahlo and Rivera but other notable artists such as Manuel and Lola lvarez Bravo, Miguel Covarrubias, Gunther Gerzso, Graciela Iturbide, María Izquierdo, Carlos Mérida, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Juan Soriano and Rufino Tamayo.
Norton Museum director and CEO Ghislain d’Humières said the exhibit was originally set up a year and a half ago by his predecessor, Elliot Bostwick Davis, and art curator American Harold and Anne Berkley Smith, Ellen Roberts.
The exhibition features funds from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and the Vergel Foundation. It is organized by the Italian exhibition planner MondoMostre.
“We really want to maximize this exposure to have an impact,” D’Humières said. “I think the exhibit will be very relevant to the local community.”
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In addition to symposia, public programming, Art After Dark events and musical presentations, an eight-week training course for students at John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres called “Guia” is also in the works, D ‘said. Humerous.
Students will offer bilingual tours of the exhibition to Spanish speakers.
Other programs will include an opening lecture for museum members by Julián Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, as well as presentations by other artistic leaders and experts in the field of Mexican modernism.
The exhibition presents 22 works by Kahlo and 18 by Rivera brought together by Russian-born film producer Jacques Gelman and his wife, Natasha, who were friends with but also patrons and promoters of the two artists. The works in the Gelman Collection were created during the artistic period that erupted after the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1920, an era known as Mexican Modernism.
Kahlo, the third daughter of a German father and mother of Spanish and Native American descent, met Rivera in 1922 while she was a student at Escuela Nacional Preparatoria. They married in 1929, but Rivera’s affair with Kahlo’s younger sister, Cristina, resulted in a permanent rift between them.
His relationship with Rivera was as tumultuous as his health issues. In 1925, a bus Kahlo was traveling in crashed with a streetcar, resulting in several fractures and internal injuries that left him in pain for the rest of his life. She died on July 13, 1954.
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Some of the works featured in the exhibition are “Self-Portrait with Monkeys” by Kahlo and “The Bride Who Fears When She Sees Life Open” as well as “Sunflowers” and “Calla Lilly Vendor” by Rivera. “Girl With Still Life” by Juan Soriano and “Bride from Papantla” by Maria Izquierdo will also be showing.
Roberts said the exhibition was particularly important because it will give audiences the opportunity to get a glimpse into the lives of artists such as Kahlo and Rivera beyond their works.
“The exhibition will help contextualize their works with the larger history of Modernism in Mexico, not only in terms of Kahlo and Rivera, but other artists as well,” said Roberts.
A body of work like Kahlo’s that is so widely reproduced takes on new meaning for the viewer when seen in person because “that’s when you realize how great a painter she was,” said Roberts. .
“It’s amazing to have not only these self-portraits that people will recognize, but also these other works of Kahlo, like her portraits of Natasha Gelman and Diego Rivera,” she said. “It shows the extent of his work, which sometimes you don’t see if you just focus on his self-portraits.”
An “interesting” part of the exhibit, said Roberts, is the paintings of Kahlo and Rivera by Natasha Gelman, who was a model for both. The works are very different, with Kahlo’s more personal and not centered on Gelman’s body, Roberts said, while Rivera’s are much more “voluptuous and sexier.”
“Voluptuous” is also a word that can apply to Rivera’s painting of Palm Beach socialite CZ Guest, who posed nude for Rivera in the mid-1940s. Rumor has it that when she married the heir to Fortune of Steel Winston Frederick Churchill Guest in 1947, his family bought the photo at a bar in Mexico City so no one else could see it.
In addition to Rivera’s earlier Cubist works created in Paris, the exhibition will feature his famous murals that detail the indigenous Mexican culture, known as “Mexicanidad”.
The exhibition will be organized into different “themes” that show the multiple aspects of Mexican modernist artists, such as their personal lives, their vision of nature and the links that each had with their home.
“Because these artists were coming out of a post-revolution period, they had a new perception of themselves as Mexican artists and as a new traditionalist but also modern nation,” said Roberts.
Those wishing to visit the exhibit can call 561-907-4032 now to book group tours for adults. General ticket reservations will be available in August.
The museum continues to maintain a limited capacity and requires visitors to wear masks, take their temperature on arrival, and book advance and timed tickets.
For more information, visit www.norton.org or call 561-832-5196.