Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s fiery relationship, in many ways reflected through their art, goes on display this Valentine’s Day at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art for the largest-ever mounting of their work in a single venue.
“Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting” brings together more than 120 of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s pieces ranging from Rivera’s early cubist works to many of Kahlo’s well-known self-portraits.
Defying a twenty-year age gap and a seemingly tempestuous relationship mired by mutual infidelities and their own divorce and subsequent remarriage, Frida and Diego’s admiration for each other’s painting and politics fueled a 25-year-union.
“It’s a more common conception to say Frida was influenced by Diego, he was an international celebrity by the time they got together, but I think there was some influence both ways,” says Elliott King, guest curator for the exhibition. “Their combined work has never really been shown to this scale… we get a sense of why they stayed together.”
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s vivid portrayals of the quintessential Mexican experience captured the world’s imagination at a time of revolution not only in their country, but around the world during the first half of the 20th century.
“As Mexican creatives, they became part of our blood, part of our DNA because they, as very few artists have done, merged popular culture and modernity,” says Ignacio Cadena, one of two Mexican designers commissioned to create contemporary reading rooms for the “Frida & Diego” exhibition. “They portrayed Mexico and portrayed it worldwide… [through their art] they talked about what makes Latin American culture so vibrant.”
It’s the first-ever bilingual English-Spanish exhibition for the High Museum of Art and an executive with presenting sponsor Wells Fargo believes it is an important step in reaching out to the local Latino community. “An exhibit such as this, connected to the Latin American community, is a powerful incentive… we hope it will drive people to the museum,” says Joe Atkinson, community bank president for Wells Fargo’s Greater Georgia North Region.
Carlos Phillips Olmedo, director of Mexico City’s Museo Dolores Olmedo, the major lending institution for “Frida & Diego,” says he believes this exhibit is also an effective way to present a more multi-dimensional reality of Mexican culture and identity.
“With the press of today and news coming out of Mexico, that’s not us. This is us. This is what our people are. This is what we represent. We are a colorful, bright… we are hard-working, we believe in ourselves and we believe in our freedom, in our future,” said Phillips Olmedo.