NASHVILLE, TN – April 24, 2019 –The Frist Art Museum presents “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection” on display May 24-Sept. 2 in the Ingram Gallery at Frist Art Museum.
The exhibition captures the vitality and expressiveness of 20th-century Mexican art with iconic works by Frida Kahlo, her husband Diego Rivera, and their contemporaries, including Manuel Álvarez Bravo, María Izquierdo, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. It is organized by the Vergel Foundation and MondoMostre in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura.
Among the more than 150 works on view will be seven painted self-portraits by Kahlo, Rivera’s “Calla Lily Vendor,” and numerous portraits of the Gelmans, plus more than 50 photographs that provide insight into Kahlo and Rivera’s passionate love affair and how the couple lived, worked, and dressed.
Husband-and-wife collectors Jacques and Natasha Gelman were glamorous and wealthy Eastern European refugees who married in Mexico in 1941, took part in Mexico City’s vibrant art scene, and acquired art mostly from their artist friends. In 1943, Jacques commissioned a full-length portrait of Natasha from Rivera, Mexico’s most celebrated painter.
In the early 20th century, Mexico’s artistic avant-garde was closely tied to political and social revolution. Following Mexico’s civil war from 1910 to 1920, the government enlisted male painters to produce monumental murals in public buildings. Rivera was a revered figure in this muralism movement and an avowed Communist.
Rivera’s artistic works, as well as his vocal opinions on the role of art, would shape the development of Mexican culture throughout the first half of the 20th century. Rivera also created easel paintings representing poignant scenes of everyday life and labor in Mexico, such as “Calla Lily Vendor,” a luminous painting that celebrates the beauty and strength of Mexico and its people.
Like Rivera, Kahlo infused her work with mexicanidad, identification with Mexico’s distinct national history, traditions, culture, and natural environment in a personal way. About a third of her paintings are self-portraits, the works for which she is now most celebrated. They accentuate her distinctive appearance, characterized by a v-shaped unibrow, deep brown eyes, mustache, carefully coiffed hair with braids, and indigenous Mexican clothing.
Known primarily in artistic circles during her lifetime, Kahlo’s paintings began to attract widespread international attention in the decades following her death. Her work and life story continued to resonate in pop culture with the success of “Frida,” a 1983 biography by Hayden Herrera, and the 2002 biopic of the same name, starring Salma Hayek.
The exhibition includes more than 50 photographs of Kahlo, most of which were taken by noted photographers, such as Lola Álvarez Bravo, Nickolas Muray, and Edward Weston. There is also a special gallery focused on Kahlo’s unique personal style, which offers insight into her wardrobe, hairstyles, and jewelry. An interactive touchscreen allows visitors to explore elements of her clothing and to learn why she wore them. The exhibition concludes with haunting black-and-white photographs of Kahlo’s crutches, corset, and bed, taken recently at the Casa Azul, her former home in Coyoacán, by contemporary artists, including Patti Smith.
For more information, visit www.fristartmuseum.org.
About the Frist Art Museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Art Museum’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Art Museum exhibitions. Information on accessibility can be found at FristArtMuseum.org/accessibility. Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and for members; $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and college students with ID; and $8 for military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5-9 p.m. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations by calling 615-744-3247. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon. For additional information, call 615-244-3340 or visit www.FristArtMuseum.org.
Ellen Jones Pryor